In a petition, with two pages of signatures, the new converts have accused the VHP, the RSS and the Bajrang Dal of indulging in intimidation to get them back to the Hindu fold. The petitioners said that they had embraced Christianity on their own free will.
According to the petition addressed to the Bodh Gaya SHO, a group of 30-40 intruders raided the Christan hamlet around midnight on Saturday. But when the vigilantes challenged them, the intruders made a hasty retreat.
Shiv Shankar Masih, the first dalit from the village who embraced Christianity way back in 2007 and now leads the new converts of the village told the TOI on Monday morning that activists of the VHP, the Bajrang Dal and the RSS have been visiting the village to issue threats to the converts.
The converts have been warned that they will be deprived of all the benefits of government schemes and driven out of the village if they did not come back to the Hindu fold.
Shiv Shankar Masih alleged that on Sunday evening, Gaya MP Hari Manjhi offered Masih a government job if he returned to the Hindu fold. However, nobody has been specifically named in the petition submitted to the local SHO.
When contacted, MP Hari Manjhi denied Masih's allegation. Conceding that he went to the village after the eruption of the conversion controversy, the MP said that he was against the use of coercion and enticement both in conversion and reconversion.
"If the misguided villagers came back to the Hindu fold on their own, fine. Else, good luck to them," said Manjhi. Asked about his more than conspicuous absence from the VHP sponsored "ghar wapsi" homecoming reconversion programme, the MP said that he had more pressing engagements elsewhere.
Asked about the petition submitted by the recently converted dalits, Gaya SSP Nishant Tiwari said that he had neither seen nor been informed about it. The SSP also denied that any group had raided Atia village on Saturday night.