'We were lured by money to convert'

Giving a new twist to the mass conversion of about 250 Muslims to Hinduism in Uttar Pradesh’s Agra town, some ‘converts’ on Tuesday alleged that they had been lured with the offer of ration cards and money for changing their faith.

“We were told that we will get BPL ration cards and money, and were asked to take part in a programme about which we had no idea,” said one of the ‘converts’.“When we were asked to take part in the rituals, we did not protest fearing reprisal and silently did whatever told,” he went on to claim.

Some others who were ‘converted’ claimed that they had been offered a piece of land and were told only to get themselves photographed at a religious ceremony. “We did not know that it was going to be a conversion,” said another man.Reports said that many who had ‘converted’ on Monday, returned to their old faith on Tuesday.

Bajrang Dal district chief Ajju Chauhan however refuted the reports and said that nothing had been offered to the converts. “Media is unnecessarily trying to give a twist to the conversion. These people returned to their old faith voluntarily,” Chauhan claimed.

Representatives of the saffron organisations said that they would hold a similar mass conversion programme at Aligarh later this month in which over 2,000 who had “converted” to Islam would “return home”.

At a religious ceremony held at Devi Road area in Agra on Monday, some 250 members of 60 families had ‘converted’ to Hinduism. These people, who were mainly junk dealers, have been living in the town for the past many years. They reportedly hailed originally from West Bengal.

The mass conversion triggered a huge controversy with leaders from several political parties sharply criticising it.

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