LUCKNOW: Over 70 Hindus have been allegedly converted to Christianity in Uttar Pradesh's Bahraich district. While district officials are probing the matter, a suspect from an outfit called India Hope Center has been arrested, police said.
A district official said office bearers of the outfit are active in the Kamalpuri village and that they were trying to allure villagers into accepting Christianity.
However, District Magistrate Satyendra Kumar said Thursday that it has not been confirmed if the conversions took place.
"We have send officials to the village and are trying to ascertain the veracity of the charges," he added.
Kumar said the district administration was vigilant about such issues. Intelligence officials, however, said the India Hope Center activities "had picked up in the area" for the past few months, especially after the floods.
"They had distributed relief material to the villagers and it is feared that in lieu of this they tried to allure the villagers into embracing Christianity," a police official said.
Police said they are looking for the India Hope Center head. Sources said that the 'baptism' of villagers Lallan, Bhaniram, Amarjeet, Happy, Shyamlal, Jawahar Lal, Benchan Prasad and many others was done by Bishop Mahendra Kumar.
The converts were also seen wearing crosses but they have now gone underground for fear of police, a local said.
Meanwhile, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) demanded a thorough probe into the episode.
"It is amazing and disturbing that the chief minister is mum on this issue while he does not miss any chance to score political points when the issue is about Muslims being converted to Hinduism," said Vijaya Bahadur Pathak, state spokesman of the BJP.
Meanwhile, a series of 'Ghar Wapasi' (home coming) events are lined up for Thursday in Allahabad and Varanasi. Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) leaders Ashok Sinhal and Sumeru seer Narendranand Saraswati will camp in Varanasi to make the events a success.
Advocating a stern law to curb all religious conversions, Singhal said that he will not disclose the event venue for now and would proceed with the home coming events.
A home department official said that district administrations across the state were being sensitized on the matter.