Religious conversion debate in Parliament: As it happened

New Delhi: Fireworks over the issue of alleged forced conversion of Muslims into Hinduism began as a united Opposition attempted to attack the Narendra Modi-led BJP government at the Centre when both Houses convened for normal business on Thursday.

Religious conversion debate in Parliament: As it happened

New Delhi: Fireworks over the issue of alleged forced conversion of Muslims into Hinduism began as a united Opposition attempted to attack the Narendra Modi-led BJP government at the Centre when both Houses convened for normal business on Thursday.

Congress and Samajwadi Party had earlier given notice over alleged forced conversion in Uttar Pradesh's Agra by several groups affiliated to the ruling BJP's ideological mentor Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and demanded a debate on the issue.

However, later, SP leader Naresh Agarwal denied that his party has given any notice for discussion over religious conversion. Janata Dal (United) is also likely to give a

similar notice to the Lok Sabha Speaker today.

Here are the Live Updates:-

  • The government at the Centre will do whatever it takes to maintain communal harmony in the country: Naidu.
  • The government is very clear about its agenda and will be working very hard on the agenda promised to the people, Naidu continues.
  • Most opposition parties stage walkout of Lok Sabha, boycotting government's reply to debate on conversion - PTI reports.
  • Let there be anti-conversion laws in states and at the Centre, Naidu says.
  • Naidu says RSS is a great organisation and he's proud to have a RSS background. This leads to an uproar in Parliament.
  • The false propaganda that the Opposition is doing that after this govt came in power, communal tensions have increased.
  • Religious conversion is a national challenge; it is not happening only today, it has been happening for a long time.
  • The entire country should introspect and come out with a solution to this conversion issue, Naidu says.
  • BJP MP Venkaiah Naidu now speaks on the conversion row. Some people are seeing the issue with a narrow angle, this is a very serious issue and should not be politicised.
  • We (Muslims) are not scared of RSS and Bajrang Dal members, we will continue to follow our religion, Owaisi asserts.
  • Will talks of religion conversion help in the development which the government so often talks about, asks Owaisi.
  • Asaduddin Owaisi AIIMM MP those who are talking about religion conversion are making most unfortunate statements.
  • AAP MP Bhagwant Mann says on one hand the government is talking about development and eradicating poverty and on the other it is making statements about conversion of religion.
  • JD(U) MP Kaushlendra Kumar  says that the reports of conversion are unfortunate.
  • We are passing through difficult times, we should discourage such divisive incidents: NCP MP
  • If there is any nexus between Govt, VHP and Bajrang Dal: NCP MP
  • We wont to know from the Govt its stand on the issue: NCP MP
  • Why PM's own party colleagues are not following his advises: NCP MP
  • I fail to understand why our PM is faltering: NCP MP
  • We have celebrated Human Right days but the same is being violated in our country:  NCP MP
  • Those who were converted claimed later that they were lured: NCP MP
  • Agra incident is highly condemnable: NCP MP
  • Today our society is witnessing radical changes: NCP MP
  • Are we treading the Briton's way, asks NCP MP   
  • Britishers ruled India by dividing Hindus and Muslims: NCP MP
  • People from all walks of life have condemned the Agra incident: NCP MP
  • The Agra incident is an attack on the Ganga -Jamuni culture of our country: Anwar
  • We all claim to be followers of Mahatama Gandhi's principal of “Sarvdharma Sambhav”
  • Our Constitution does not allow forced conversion of any individual: NCP MP
  • Tariq Anwar of NCP takes over the debate
  • If the Centre is so concerned about changing the society, it should figt other evils of the society as well: Md Salim
  • How can Banjrang Dal activist lure people to convert on pretext of providing ration card and money: Md Salim
  • This is the politicisation of governance: Md Salim
  • BR Ambedkar once said conversion only changes an individual's way of worshipping his ideals, but it doses not change his econmical situation: Md Salim  
  • This is the land of Nanak, Kabir, Baba Farid, Swami Vivekanand and many great souls: Md Salim,
  • Instead of condemning the Agra incident, the BJP MPs says it is ordinary incident: Md Salim   
  • It is the responsibility of the PM, Home Minister and the Govt to discourage such divisive tenancies: CPI-M MP
  • The question is who have been converted – the poverty stricken and econmically weaker people of our society: Md Salim  
  • This forced conversion or lured conversion are something which should have no place in our society: Md Salim
  • It is related to Constitutional propriety: Md Salim
  • The Agra incident is very sensitive: Md Salim
  • Md Salim of CPI-M takes over the debate
  • I think both the opposition and the Govt agrees that forced or loot conversion are not good for the nation: TRS MP  
  • Konda V reddy, TRS takes the debate forward
  • Any kind of discrimination against any section of the society will be dangerous for the nation as a whole: JD-S  
  • If the PM's vision is to take the nation forward, any incident which tends to divide the society is not going t take us anywhere: JD-S
  • We have given reservation to minorities in our state and no political party has opposed that  
  • I have seen what has happened in many states in all these years:
  • I have been in this august House since 1981:
  • HD Deve Gowda of JD (S) begins his speech
  • I wont to conclude by saying that if we are to embolden our society, we need to end discrimination of all kinds: SP chief   
  • Will the MPs run the House acing on newspaper reports, asks SP chief   
  • Whatever has happened has had no impact on people living in Agra: Yadav
  • If we are to strengthen the society, we need to tackle divisionary forces: SP chief  
  • I was once subjected to discrimination on cast basis: Yadav
  • We are discussing an important issue, but nobody wants to know why this is happening
  • SP chief Mulayam Singh takes over the conversion debate
  • I strongly condemn those who have pressed for this discussion:  
  • We have never condemned any religion: Shiv Sena
  • People in tribal areas are being lured to convert to Christianity by money power: SS MP  
  • I want to mention the case of Indian shooter Tara Shahdev who was forced to convert to Islam
  • Even the Kerala CM Oommen Chandy told the state legislature about the incient
  • I am shocked why the Opposition MPs never raised the issue when they were in power: SS MP
  • They were reported incidents of Hindus being forcibly converted to Islam in Kerala:
  • Arvind G Sawant of Shiv Sena carries the debate forward
  • I call upon the House why all state governments cant not adopt Odisha Act, which acts as a guiding light in dealing with such issues: BJD MP   
  • DMs should be be authorised to verify whether a person was forced to convert and take appropriate actions: BJD MP  
  • The power to maintain law and order should lie with the Dms: Mahtabbate taking place: Mulayam Singh Yadav in Lok Sabha on religious conversion issue.
  • This is for the House to envisage rules or legislations to desist such things in our society:  Mahtab
  • The govt of UP has the right whether inducement has taken place, whether people were forced to convert: BJD MP
  • There are elements which are trying to polarise the society: Mahtab
  • This was also outlined by the SC: BJD MP
  • But when an individual's faith offends others, he creates law and order problem: BJD MP
  • The issue explains everything – which means an individual is free to practice and follow what he likes: Mahtab   
  • Article 25 guarantees Right to Freedom of Expression: BJD MP
  • A similar bill was also passed in MP but both the bills were contended in SC:  Mahtab
  • The next govt which came to power in Odisha also passed a bill to restrict conversions: Mahtab
  • A large number of conversions were being made in the areas adjoining the state: Mahtab
  • I would start by saying that bill was moved in Odisha in 1959 to restrict conversions: Mahtab
  • Truth is one but wise men tell it in many different ways: BJD MP
  • I wish t start by quoting what is written in our ancient scriptures: BJD MP
  • Bhartruhari Mahtab of BJD takes the debate forward
  • If it continues, the economic relief will not be available to poor people: TMC MP
  • I propose the House to adopt a resolution to condemn and ban conversions in the country: Roy
  • We should look into every aspect of what has happened in Agra: Roy
  • I thank Congress MP Jyotiraditya Scindia for initiating the debate on a very sensitive issue
  • Swagat Roy of TMC takes the debate forward
  • BJP is against conversion: Saraswati
  • My party never encourages such acts and committed to strengthening the secular fabric of the nation: BJP MP
  • We have no role in forced religious conversions: BJP MP
  • The isue is being exaggerated by the Congress: BJP MP
  • BJP has always rejected attempts to forcibly convert people: Saraswati 
  • BJP's Sumedhananad Saraswati counters Opposition charge
  • He is the PM of everyone. He is the PM of Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, of Christians. We want an answer from him : Jyotiraditya Scindia
  • They are changing history, they are changing culture, they are talking about Taj Mahal now, but not talking about future: Scindia
  • One minister of this Sarkar used such a word, which I cannot use in Parliament: Scindia
  • This is the first time Delhi has an unsafe environment, this environment began after this govt came to power: Scindia
  • They opposed Sania Mirza, They forced feeded someone who was fasting in Ramzaan, Trilokpuri was made tense, Churches burnt: Scindia
  • This govt is moving away from issues like Black Money, China and Pak towards issues of Polarization: Scindia
  • RSS has said that the central government is under their control: Scindia
  • Congress MP Scindia demands PM's reply on conversion issue, says he is PM for people of all religions.
  • 'Is this the Acche Din that the government promised?': Jyotiraditya Scindia
  • Is luring people to convert to another religion the beginning of 'Achhe Din' promised?:  Scindia MP
  • Those who are doing these acts are emboldened by the BJP govt at the Centre:  Scindia
  • Agra conversion row is a serious matter: Congress
  • Congress' Jjyotiraditya Scindia leads the opposition charge, demands PM's statement
  • Congress initiates debate on religious conversion
  • Lok Sabha adjourned till 3 pm due to ruckus created by Opposition over conversion row.
  • We tried it in Arunachal Pradesh for indigenous people but it didn't work: Ering
  • The idea of banning conversion is not correct:Congress MP Ninong Ering
  • UP Minority panel asks Agra DM, SSP to file report on conversion row within 72 hours.
  • UP State Minority Commission also intervenes in the issue.
  • Home Ministry seeks report from UP govt on alleged forced conversion in Agra .
  • I urge UP, Bihar govts to ban such outfits: Yadav.
  • Bajrang Dal should be banned: RJD MP Pappu Yadav.
  • It's constitutional right of every citizen to choose their religion, but luring people to change their religion is a crime: Singh.
  • Sangh & BJP have always had political agenda of dividing people of nation in the name of religion: Digvijaya Singh.
  • Every Indian has right to choose religion, but if they are forced or misled to convert, it is a violation of constitution: Ashwani Kumar, Congress
  • Speaker proposes to hold conversion debate at 2 pm.
  • Speaker agrees to discussion on religious conversion issue
  • Jyotiraditya Scindia of Congress says the govt can't dictate us when to hold debate on conversion issue.
  • There are other issues like MNREGA which need to be debated fist: Rudy  
  • Union Minister Rajiv Pratap Rudy says the Govt is ready for debate but other issue should be discussed first
  • We will support the govt if it is serious on the issue: Mulayam  
  • BJP is in power in Centre, it is its duty to maintain peace and tranquillity in the nation, says SP chief   
  • It is just a beginning, it can lead to communal riots: SP chief
  • It is a very sensitive issue: Mulayam Singh
  • Parliament reassembles
  • Some documents have also been recovered from its office, says sources.
  • UP Police raids office of RSS-backed Dharma Jagran Manch in Agra in connection with the conversion issue.
  • Lok Sabha adjourned for 10 minutes till 12.05 pm. .
  • Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha adjourned as din over religious conversion continues
  • This won’t be tolerated, says Sitaram Yechury of CPI on religion conversion issue.
  • This is against secular structure of nation: CPI
  • Defiant BJP MP Yogi Adityanath says, "Will attend conversions program. It is cultural program, nothing wrong with it."
  • We all know who is behind conversion of poor Hindus - Vatican - from where the entire money flows: Raut
  • We will also present of view point on that, Hindus were forced to converted in many stats and it continues even today: Raut  
  • Sanjay Raut of Shiv Sena says we are not afraid of any debate on conversion
  • Congress MP PL Punia seeks PM's reply on religious conversion issue.
  • Katiyar claims that J&K CM Omar Abdullah's forefathers were also Hindu.
  • BJP MP Vinay Katiyar says nobody talks about Hindus' conversion
  • It is also the Centre's responsibility to see no such forced conversion takes place: Mayawati
  • The SP, which is in power in UP, must look into the matter; BSP chief
  • BJP and its affiliated outfits are trying to create communal tension in UP: Mayawati  
  • This is a planned controversy by RSS-backed outfits to damage the secular fabric of the nation.
  • BJP also dares SP to conduct probe into UP conversion row.
  • Agree that anti-conversion law should be made: Parliament Affairs Minister
  • When there will be a debate, we will discuss both conversion and re-conversion: Naidu
  • We are ready to debate any issue, don't disrupt Parliament: Naidu
  • Union Minister Venkaiah Naidu counters Opposition charge, says Govt is ready for discussion on any issue.
  • Congress Leader Mallikarjun Kharge presses fo a detailed discussion on conversion row.
  • Congress raises conversion issue and demands a detailed discussion
  • Question Hour continues in Lok Sabha as Congress MPs shout slogans in background
  • Parliament convenes
  • People are voluntarily converting, says Swkashi Maharj.
  • Congress gives notice for discussion on religious conversion in Rajya Sabha.
  • Also Read: Tension in Muzaffarnagar over conversion

On Wednesday the Opposition parties condemned the reports of alleged religious conversion of some 200 people in Uttar Pradesh and are demanding strict action against the RSS affiliated groups as they plan to go ahead with their “homecomings” programme to convert more people into Hinduism.

The Opposition is also demanding a clarification from the BJP government on the issue.

Reports on Thursday said that this Christmas, the RSS affiliated groups have planned to convert at least 4,000 Christian and 1,000 Muslim families into Hinduism under what it calls the 'Ghar Wapsi' programme in Aligarh.

Organisers claim the event in Aligarh will be one of the biggest ever conversion programmes, firebrand BJP leader MP Yogi Adityanath will be among those who will lead the event on December 25.

While the ruling BJP has denied any role in the conversions, its firebrand MP Adityanath had said that,“This is not conversion but homecoming. My program is in Aligarh and it will happen - those who want to return voluntarily will be welcome."

The RSS-backed groups have chosen the “Aligarh”and December 25 as the day for the even since the city has a sizeable Muslim population and is considered to be a stronghold of Samajwadi Party, which is currently in power in UP.

“Aligarh has been  chosen because it's time we wrest the Hindu city from Muslims. It is a city of brave Rajputs and their temples on whose remains Muslim institutions have been established," RSS regional pracharak Rajeshwar Singh was quoted as saying.

Christmas was chosen as the day for conversion because the event is a "shakti pariksha" (test of strength) for both religions, said Singh. "If their religion is better, they can stop them. It is a test for both of us. If they come to us on Christmas, it is the biggest rejection of the faith," Singh was quoted as saying to he media.

According to reports, the RSS-backed groups have already identified families from 40 slums in Aligarh, Bulandshahr and Hathras, "The 4,000 Christian families belong to the Valmiki samaj. The Valmiki samaj is the feet of the Hindu society. We are incomplete without them."

The 1,000 Muslim families who have been identified for the conversion are descendants of Thakurs and Brahmins who have been convinced of their "lost pride", Singh further claimed.

Meanwhile the Uttar Pradesh Police on Wednesday issued a state-wide alert in view of plans by Hindu groups to hold more conversion programmes this month.

“All SPs have been told to remain vigilant and monitor the activities of groups involved in conversions,” said additional DG Mukul Goel. “Police can’t stop a person from choosing or adopting a religion. But if there is a complaint of forced conversion, we will act against the organisation concerned, ” he added.

Hindu Yuva Vahini, an outfit floated by BJP MP from Gorakhpur Yogi Adityanath, will spearhead the a even to reconvert people to Hinduism in a programme at Ghazipur in eastern Uttar Pradesh on December 18.

This comes amid a denial by 57 Muslim families of claims made by hard-line Hindu groups Dharma Jagaran Manch and Bajrang Dal's that they have switched to Hinduism. These families say they were tricked into a conversion event couched as a "homecoming ceremony" in Agra.

"We have taken permission from the administration and hopefully we would reconvert 2,000 people in Ghazipur on December 18," Sunil Singh, state president of the Vahini, was quoted as saying.

Though Yogi Aditynath has denied charges that people were reconverted to Hinduism at the Gorakhnath temple in Gorakhpur, it is rumoured that the Gorakhnath temple, the seat of spiritual power of the Nath sect of ascetics, is behind reconversion efforts in this part of eastern Uttar Pradesh for many years.

The issue created a furore in Parliament yesterday and is likely to be raised again when both Houses met for normal business today. "The House and the country need reassurance that the Constitution will not be violated. It is a diabolical plan by the BJP," Congress leader Anand Sharma said in the Rajya Sabha yesterday. "The Prime Minister must clarify," said Left leader Sitaram Yechury.

A criminal case for cheating and promoting enmity was also filed yesterday in Uttar Pradesh on the complaint of a villager who has alleged that 57 Muslim families chosen from a rag-pickers' colony in Agra were given inducements like I-cards for welfare schemes to convert to Hinduism.

The ceremony, allegedly organized by activists of the Bajrang Dal and Dharam Jagran Samanvyay Vibhag, featured chanting by priests while the converts, wearing skull caps, made offerings at a ritual fire or havan.