In its largest ever “reconversion” programme and the first public one in West Bengal, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) organised a “cleansing” ritual for 150 tribals in Birbhum district on Wednesday.
While the event took place in the presence of senior VHP leaders, including Praveen Togadia, Sangh leaders preferred to downplay the event. A livid Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, however, has asked the district administration for a detailed report on the matter.
With the BJP making inroads into Bengal’s socio-political scenario, the VHP managed a coup of sorts by “reconverting” about 150 people of Khoramdanga village, where most residents are Christians. The event was followed by a rally addressed by Togadia and other VHP leaders. Like in other states, the VHP has called the programme “Ghar Wapsi”, where it claims, those Hindus who have been “forcibly” converted to another religion are being taken back home.
“The CM is angry with the district administration. We should have had the information beforehand so that necessary steps could have been taken,” an official said, not willing to elaborate what “necessary steps” means.
The Trinamool also reacted sharply against the action. “Bengal has a history of living in communal harmony and bigots like Togadia will be dealt with ruthlessly,” Trinamool spokesperson and Rajya Sabha MP, Derek O’Brien tweeted after the news became public.
While there have been murmurs of several such programmes having taken place in different parts of Bengal with no official confirmation from VHP, the one at Khoramdanga came to light since the district administration was keeping an eye on the situation due to Togadia’s presence.
While VHP leaders refused to come on record after the news spread and led to an uproar by Trinamool Congress and the Left parties, sources confirmed that the ‘Ghar Wapsi’ programme took place on Wednesday evening.