Agra 'conversions' rock parliament

New Delhi


The "conversion" of around 300 Muslims to Hinduism in Agra echoed in parliament Wednesday, with opposition members raising the issue in both houses.

In the Rajya Sabha, the issue was raised in the zero hour, as soon as the house met for the day, with Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati calling it an attack on the country's secular fabric.

She was backed by many opposition parties, who together asked for a statement from Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the issue.

Th issue was also raised in the lower house by Trinamool Congress leader Sultan Ahmed.

In the upper house, Mayawati said: "Our nation is run by a constitution which has secularism as a pillar."

"Whichever party is in the government is responsible to take care of the safety of the life and religious beliefs of people," said the former Uttar Pradesh chief minister.

Nearly 300 members of some 60 Muslim families living in a slum on Agra's outskirts reportedly embraced Hinduism Monday. The Bajrang Dal said it had organised the event.

Mayawati said: "There is a provision that there shall be no forced conversion. We got to know through the media that RSS' sister organisation Bajrang Dal has forcefully converted Muslims in Agra.

"They (Muslims) were lured. They (Bajrang Dal) took advantage of their poverty to convert them," she alleged.

"This issue shall be taken up seriously. Although I know the (central) government will say it is a state subject," she added, warning that "if it is not stopped, it will cause communal tension in the whole country".

The government must take strict action," she demanded.

Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said the government was committed to secular ideals.

"I want to clarify that we are as dedicated to harmony and secularism as anyone else. Secularism is not anyone's monopoly," he said.

"As far as this incident is concerned, an FIR has been registered. Naming a particular organisation for political reasons is not right.

"I request (the chair to) expunge the name of the organisations specially the RSS. Whatever action has to be taken has to be taken by the state government," Naqvi said.

The opposition sought a clarification from Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Communist Party of India-Marxist leader Sitaram Yechury said: "The RSS has said that after 90 years they have their government in (Delhi). They say they will covert the nation into a Hindu nation.

"People were misled, the government must make a statement," he said.

Congress leader Anand Sharma asked Deputy Chairman P.J. Kurien to direct the government to elicit the prime minister's views, while his party colleague said it is a criminal offence to lure any person to conversion and in light of thie event, the government should respond.

Kurien however said: "If you want to raise the issue, there are rules."

In the Lok Sabha, as soon as the house met for question hour, Trinamool's Ahmed, waving a newspaper, asked: "What is happening in Agra?"

Speaker Sumitra Mahajan said she has rejected his notice for an adjournment motion and cannot allow the discussion.

However, Parliamentary Affairs Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu urged the members to raise the issue after the question hour.- IANS