Bharat Khanna

Tribune News Service

Bathinda, January 2

Let down by poor response to its ‘ghar wapsi’(reconversion) programme in Bathinda today, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) blamed Akalis and a section of Sikh clergy for the flop show.

After no family turned up at Satya Narayan Mandir for reconversion, the Hindu outfit accused SAD leaders and the district administration of putting pressure on the families.

VHP state secretary Sukhpal Singh Sran, who was sure that 200 families would attend the event, first reduced his claim to 100. Then, by noon today, he scaled down the number to about 35. As dusk approached and with no “reconverts” in sight, he declared the postponement of the programme.

The Tribune was the first to report the matter on December 27, 2014 under the headline ‘Conversion row set to hit Bathinda’ when the VHP had claimed to reconvert Hindu and Sikh families at the Satya Narayan Mandir.Blaming the SAD and Akal Takht, Sran said, “After the Akal Takht priest refused to accept the converted families back into the Sikh fold, a number of families decided not to go ahead with the plan.”There was a political pressure by Akali leaders and the district administration. The soured relations between the BJP and SAD played a key role.

The CID wing of the police gathered information on the families that were scheduled to convert today. Pressure was put on a number of families, including those in different villages of Bathinda,” he said.”Now, we have scheduled the event for Makar Sankranti (January 13). All these families will embrace Hinduism on that day. Our national leader, Khem Chand, will also take part in that function,” he said.Sran accused Akali leader and Chief Parliamentary Secretary Saroop Singla from Bathinda of working against the ‘ghar wapsi’.To evade the police and the CID, the VHP, on Friday, changed the venue of the event to Baba Balak Nath Dera. Earlier, it was scheduled to be held at the house of Prateek Sharma, a Bajrang Dal activist in the Janta Nagar locality of Bathinda. The change in plan was kept under wraps from all, even the media.

But CID officials were on their toes all along and made reportedly inquiries from a number of families that were about to reconvert at the VHP event. In one such case, CID officials allegedly barged into a house and started questioning the family members, as they followed Hinduism but had a cross on the gate of their house.

Neelam Kumari said, “Some police officials in civil dress entered my home without permission and started questioning me.”George Masih, Father at the Church in Bathinda, said, “All this is being done to divide Sikhs and Christians. The families that have now embraced Hinduism had never adopted Christianity, according to our records.

Even those who have converted to Sikhism belong to Hindu families.Ashwini Shukla, Dharam Pracharak Pramukh, VHP, Bathinda, said, “There was a pressure on the families by the intelligence agencies following which they asked us to postpone the ‘ghar wapsi’, which is being done by us since 2005. There was pressure on us too.”Bathinda Deputy Commissioner did not respond to phone calls, but Bathinda SSP Inder Mohan Singh Bhatti said, “We have not received any complaint.

Policemen were not used to inquire into anything about the conversion. We also didn’t have any information about the programme.”