Around 50 villagers, mostly OBC Yadavas who are already Hindus, attended the function that saw a havan amid chants of Vedic mantras and distribution of saffron scarfs and tulsi necklaces.
The VHP leaders, however, claimed some Christians attended the ghar wapsi event organised near Atiya village. Gaya BJP MP Hari Manjhi, who had visited the village on December 26 and was supposed to attend the function, stayed away because of “political reasons”.
VHP’s prant sanrakshak Uday Kumar Verma said the outfit would set up one-teacher school or ekal vidyalaya where the village students would also be taught about Hindu values.
The Gaya district administration, which had received complaints from some Manjhi families about the VHP leaders putting pressure on them to reconvert, had deployed adequate forces at Manjhi settlements and also succeeded in forcing the saffron outfit to organise the “ghar wapsi” at some distance from their houses to avoid clashes. The 42 converted families have altogether 198 members.
The police said it was only a complaint and there was no need to convert it into an FIR. A police picket has also been opened at the village.
Bodh Manjhi, Anil Manjhi and Vinod Manjhi, who represented the converted families before the local MP two days ago, stayed at their homes on Monday. Pastor Rajkishore’s family, who used to stay at village community hall, reportedly has left the area fearing backlash from Hindus.
One of the converts Vikram Manjhi said: “We are happy being Christians. We did not succumb to VHP pressure to reconvert. Once we have converted, there will be no looking back”.
Shivshanker Manjhi said the families were happy with “education and health services” being provided by missionaries. “For last three days, the VHP leaders had been after us for ghar wapsi. We told it to the police. We have nothing to do with the VHP function”, said Shivshanker, who spoke in broken English at times to make an impression. When asked about who provided handpumps, irate village women said it was “missionary, not the government”.
Those who took part in the “ghar wapsi” exposed the VHP’s claims on reconversion. Chandrika Yadav, a villager who attended the function, said: “I am very much a Hindu and attended havan because I did not find anything wrong with it. I am very much at home and where is question of ghar wapsi.” Though some Manjhis did attend the fumction, they were Hindus and from another area of the village.
As priests talked about importance of cow protection and Ganga cleanliness and chanted mantras invoking Hindu deities, a village youngster quipped: “Hindu ko hi Hindu bana rahe hai (they are converting Hindus to Hindus).”
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