'Converts' in dilemma as clerics junk claims

Agra families told to

'Converts' in dilemma as clerics junk claims

Muslim families allegedly “converted” to Hinduism by saffron outfits in Agra now find themselves caught between the devil and deep sea.

The families, which are poor and live in slums, alleged that they were lured into conversion. They have been refused admittance into their old faith and were told that they would never be forgiven for “ridiculing” their religion. “We feel isolated and ostracised,” said one of the “converts”.

According to reports, though the families claimed that they did not know that they were being “converted”, the local clerics made it clear that they could not be taken back into the community easily. “These people can be taken back into the Muslim community only after they convert again,” said a local cleric in Agra.

The issue of “conversion” and their “re-admittance” into the community has triggered a fierce debate among the local Muslim clerics with one section maintaining that there was need for them to “re-convert”.

“These people had been lured into conversion. They did not know what was happening to them. Hence, they still are Muslims and there is no need for them to re-convert,” said another Muslim cleric.

At a religious ceremony held at Devi Road area in Agra on Monday, some 250 members of 60 Muslim families had “converted” to Hinduism. These people, who were mainly scrap dealers, have been living in the town for the past several years. They reportedly hail from West Bengal.

A day later, however, some of the “converts” alleged that they had been “lured” with the offer of ration cards and money for “changing” their faith.

Some others, who too were “converted” claimed that they had been offered a piece of land and were told only to pose for photographs at a religious ceremony.

The “mass conversion” triggered a controversy with the opposition parties attacking the BJP-led government at the Centre and demanding stern action against the saffron outfits.

An FIR has been lodged in Agra in this connection.

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