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No let-up by Hindu groups on ghar vapsi

Participants at the rally to mark the 88th Swami Shradhanand Balidan Divas, organised by the Arya Kendriya Sabha Delhi Rajya, at Ramlila Maidan in New Delhi on Thursday. Photo: Shiv Kumar Pushpakar   | Photo Credit: SHIV KUMAR PUSHPAKAR

Amid the ongoing controversy on conversions, an Arya Samaj offshoot with close links to the Vishwa Hindu Parishad showcased a former Imam from a mosque in Meerut, who is now a Vedic preacher, at a public function attended by thousands in the heart of New Delhi on Thursday.

The preacher, who was once Maulvi Mahboob Ali, but is now called Pandit Mahender Pal Arya, was honoured for his scholarship of the Vedas, the organisers — Arya Kendriya Sabha — said. However, he made a vitriolic speech from the stage which was cut short by the organisers after about 10 minutes. Pal said, “I have organised the g har vapsi (a term for re-conversion into Hinduism) of 15,000 Muslims in the past 30 years all over India.”

The occasion for Pal’s speech was the 88th death anniversary of Swami Shradhanand, a Hindu Mahasabha leader revered by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and several pro-Hindutva outfits and credited with starting the Shudhi movement.

The movement, started a century ago, sought to re-convert Indians from other faiths through a “purification” ceremony that led to communal conflict in the early 20th century.

“He was the Imam of the Barwala mosque in Meerut. He left his religion and joined the Vedic religion,” Vinay Arya, secretary of the Sabha’s Delhi chapter announced from the stage at Ramlila Maidan while introducing Mahender Pal. “If some people lost their way, bringing them back home cannot be called conversion,” he added.

“Swami Shradhanand reached the gates of the Jama Masjid in Delhi during the Shudhi movement,” Pal said. “He was opposed by barrister M.K. Gandhi so he left the Congress and joined the Hindu Mahasabha. I am standing here as evidence of his work.”

His speech was then cut short by the organisers. Functionaries of the RSS and the VHP were present on the stage.

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Printable version | Feb 26, 2021 3:33:12 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/no-letup-by-hindu-groups-on-ghar-vapsi/article6725580.ece

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