200 Christians forced to convert back to Hinduism in India

( [email protected] ) Mar 09, 2004 08:02 AM EST

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, hardline Bharativa Janata Party (BJP). Representatives from the radical Vishwa Hindu Prishad (World Hindu Council) were also present.

BBC reported that the 200 individuals were reconverted at a Hindu temple in Jharsugada in western Orissa where the tribal Christians were first "purified" by rituals and then re-admitted into Hinduism. The ceremony was part of 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", and so they felt compelled to respond with force.

Religious conversions to Christianity from Hinduism are a major concern for Hindu leaders in Orissa, and in other places in India. Many Hindus have converted to Christianity in the past few years, and the government is clamping down.

Just last month, eight people, including six women in the state's coastal region were beaten after they refused to convert into Hinduism.