Four men of a family who were arrested on Wednesday in Madhya Pradesh’s Shivpuri for converting to Islam have done a U-turn. On Thursday, hours after being released by the police, they embraced Hinduism at a local temple in presence of Bajrang Dal activists.
Religious conversions are allowed in the state only if they are not forced. The people converting have to declare that it is voluntary and seek the state’s permission. This was what the men – Tularam Jatav, his son Keshav and relatives Maniram and Makhubhai Jatav – had apparently failed to do when they converted to Islam nine months ago.
So on Tuesday, these four men accompanied seven of their family members who wanted to convert to Islam to the district magistrate to seek his approval, but activists from Bajrang Dal and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad protested and tried to convince the family to give up the idea. A day later, they again took their relatives to the magistrate but were arrested and booked under Madhya Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act 1968.
Seven other family members, including three women, were detained for questioning.
If found guilty, the men would have been sent to jail for two years.
On Thursday, the police, without disclosing any information, let off the four arrested men on bail and the seven detained. The Jatavs reached their village in Thaniyadana area, offered their prayers at a local temple and after a “shuddhikaran” or purification ceremony, again adopted Hinduism.
“I feel I am happy to return back to my religion. We had converted earlier to Islam as we were being discriminated, whereas in Islam, everyone is treated equally. But now that the family and relatives convinced me, I have re-converted,” said Maniram.
Local Bajrang Dal leader Manoj Kumar said, “These people were misled and now they have come back to their own religion. We are happy to welcome them back.”
The VHP and Bajrang Dal are both part of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh-led pro-Hindu conglomerate that includes the state’s ruling BJP.
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