There was no pressure, say converted Hindu families in Kerala

Thiruvananthapuram: As Kerala Police began a probe into reports of 35 people in two districts converting to Hinduism, two families Monday said they did it on their own and not under any pressure.

The families of Babu and Joy, siblings from Cheppad in Alappuzha district, told the media that in official records they were classified as Christian Cheremars, but they had been practising Hinduism right from childhood.

They said that despite being classified as Christian Cheremars, they were not getting any reservation benefits. Hence, they decided on their own to convert to Hinduism to enjoy the benefits. They also said they had approached the local leadership of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), and it was they who made arrangements for their conversion rituals.

A total of 35 people from Alappuzha and Kollam districts had Sunday converted to Hinduism, following which state Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala had ordered a probe. Additional Director General of Police A. Hemachandran has been asked to conduct a detailed probe and submit a report, Chennithala's office told IANS.

"He has constituted a team of officials and they are trying to find if there was any forced conversion. The report is awaited," the office said. The VHP leadership Monday continued to maintain that there was no attempt on their part to woo people to convert to Hinduism.

Fr. Paul Thelekkat, spokesperson of the Syro Malabar Catholic Church, told IANS that there exists a problem in Kerala where reservation benefits are there for Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe Hindus and not for SC/ST Christians.

What happened Sunday was probably to enjoy those benefits, he said. "Moreover, the Bharatiya Janata Party, through this could look to polarisation of Hindu votes," Thelekkat said.

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