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Last Updated: Thursday, 4 March, 2004, 18:37 GMT
Christians convert back to Hinduism
Dilip Judeo
BJP member Dilip Singh Judeo criticised Christian conversions
More than 200 Christians in the eastern Indian state of Orissa have reconverted to Hinduism on Thursday in the presence of the leaders of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

They were reconverted at a Hindu temple in Jharsuguda in western Orissa where the tribal Christians were first purified by rituals and then re-admitted into Hinduism.

Representatives from the hardline Vishwa Hindu Parishad (World Hindu Council) were also present.

The ceremony was part of the VHP's plan to reconvert 400,000 tribal Christians back to Hinduism.

Local VHP activist Ashok Sakunia told the BBC that thousands of Hindus were being lured into Christianity by monetary benefits, so they felt compelled to respond.

The VHP has been joined by fellow Hindu pressure groups Banabasi Kalyan Ashram and Bajarang Dal in an attempt to bring back Christian converts to Hinduism.

And BJP leader Dilip Singh Judeo, a former minister in the Atal Behari Vajpayee government, said that Christian missionaries who came to India to convert Hindus under the pretence of serving the community would not be tolerated.

This accusation has been denied by Christian groups.

Jharsuguda district collector Jyoti Prakash Das said no official permission had been given for the mass conversion, and that he had not been informed of the plans under the provisions of Orissa Freedom of Religion Act, 1967.

Religious conversions to Christianity from Hinduism are a long-running sore in Orissa.

Only last month eight persons including six women in the state's coastal region were beaten after they refused to reconvert into Hinduism.


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