An Indian national extremist group known as the VHP has launched a ‘re-conversion campaign’ in the country’s northern state of Uttar Pradesh, encouraging religious minorities to follow strict Hindu practices.
In a statement to the media, the VHP’s president, Alok Kumar, said, “Checking religious conversion was one of the core issues that the VHP has been working on. Every Hindu family should strictly follow religious traditions and not copy the west. On a birthday of a Hindu child, family members should visit a temple and perform puja instead of singing happy birthday and cutting birthday cake.”
Members now monitor the areas for Christians. Local media have also reported that the VHP will soon open strictly Hindu hospitals in areas where locals have embraced Christianity.
One local source said, “Numerous pastors and church leaders in the identified areas have been falsely accused of conducting fraudulent conversions and are now in jail. There were several cases of church services closedown in the areas.”
The Uttar Pradesh state government has been widely criticised for its approach to nationalist extremism, reports suggesting the State Minister and other officials pressured several Christians to convert to Hinduism.
“Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populated state, is currently one of the most difficult states in India for Christians to live in,” persecution analyst, Rolf Zeegers, said. “Ever since the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) took over the government in March 2017, the situation for Christians has deteriorated.”