Rajeshwar Singh, one of the leaders of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a militant Hindu nationalist group, has stated on national media that the RSS will make India free of Christians and Muslims by 31 December 2021. One way it intends to do this is through forced ‘re-conversions’. Hundreds of Christians were forced to reconvert to Hinduism last year through intimidation and pressure.
Despite being the world’s largest democracy, with a constitution that guarantees freedom of religion and belief, such extremism is thriving in India. The government is now led by the Hindu nationalist party Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the political wing of RSS, and frequently turns a blind eye to attacks on minorities.
The Indian government is proposing a national anti-conversion law. Such laws, already in force in five of India’s states (Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh) and being proposed in a sixth (Maharashtra), are used disproportionately against minorities. As an excuse to harass and arrest Christians and Muslims, they can be falsely accused of forcing Hindus to change faith.
Hindu nationalists see Hinduism as the true religion of India, so when an Indian ‘returns’ to Hinduism, it is not seen as a ‘conversion’ from another faith, but a ‘ghar wapsi’ or ‘homecoming’: so they are exempt from the anti-conversion laws.