Extending its ‘ghar wapsi’ campaign to Punjab where NDA partner Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) heads the ruling alliance, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) oversaw the “reconversion” Tuesday of 40 Mazhabi Sikh families who had embraced Christianity.
RSS cadres raised cries of “Jo Bole So Nihaal”, which was repeated by boys of the “reconverted” families, as they “returned” to the Sikh fold at a ceremony at Jivan Singh gurdwara in Guru-ki-Wadali, Amritsar.
Dinesh, Punjab head of the Samanvaya Samiti of the RSS, told the gathering: “We have resolved we will not allow even one gurdwara in Punjab to close because of Sikhs embracing Christianity.”
Claiming that 40 per cent of Mazhabi Sikhs — it is recognised as a Scheduled Caste — in Punjab’s border belt had converted to Christianity, Dinesh said volunteers had stepped up efforts to return to the Sikh fold many of the converts.
The ceremony was held days after Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and his son and Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal criticised forcible religious conversion.
Balwinder Singh, a Sikh preacher from Anandpur Sahib, conducted the ceremony in which “reconverts” were handed saffron scarves, a locket with a Sikh symbol and a gutka (a small book containing banis from Sikh scriptures).
Leafing through the gutka, 60-year-old Gurmel Kaur, who had embraced Christianity 20 years ago, asked reporters if she would get old-age pension now. Another “reconvert”, Rajinder Singh, a rickshaw-puller, said he had become a Christian four years ago “because of an illness in the family” and “they told me they would cure my wife”.
Sikh preachers at the ceremony told the “reconverts” that they “no longer need to go to Christian missionaries for treatment of ailments”.