Hindu conversions row brings Indian parliament to a halt

SHAFAQNA – The upper house of India’s parliament was forced to adjourn after opposition MPs protested about Hindu nationalist groups’ attempts to convert Muslims and Christians to their own religion. Two extreme wings of the BJP party, which is led in parliament by Narendra Modi, the prime minister, promote an India based on right-wing Hindu values. Despite statements from BJP leaders apparently attacking the concept of forced religious conversions, critics argue that the prime minister has not done enough to distance himself from the controversy.

Mr Modi has still not publicly addressed the situation.

“We are going to take the percentage of Hindus to 100 in this country,” said Praveen Togadia, the leader of one of the BJP’s extreme factions, at a rally in Kerala on Sunday. Muslims make up 13.4 per cent of the Indian population, according to the national census; Christians make up 2.3 per cent.

On December 8, Muslim residents in Agra, Uttar Pradesh, were told that they had been converted to Hinduism at the end of a purification ceremony they attended in exchange for ration cards and basic amenities. A similar ceremony announced for Christmas Day in Aligarh, a city 55 miles north of Agra, has been postponed.

Regarding the parliamentary protests, Derek O’Brien, leader of the Trinamool Congress party, said: “We want a discussion on the issue of conversion and Mr Modi to come to the house.”

The controversy threatens to obstruct Mr Modi’s development agenda and jeopardise his popularity with minority groups.

Source : http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/news/world/asia/article4305020.ece

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