Cardinal Baselios Cleemis Thottunkal urges Indian prime minister Narendra Modi to intervene

The president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India has criticised forced conversions of Christians to Hinduism.

Cardinal Baselios Cleemis Thottunkal, major archbishop of the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church, said that he was gravely concerned that “conversion events are being held under the label of ‘homecoming'”.

He urged Indian prime minister Narendra Modi to intervene to address concerns surrounding “forcible conversions” across India, citing reports of such actions in Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat and Kerala states.

Some Hindu leaders have said that India is a Hindu nation and the “reconversions” are simply reclaiming people who originally were Hindu. Some have called for a ban on conversions, since they say Indians should be Hindus.

Mohan Bhagwat, head of the National Volunteer Corps, known as the ideological fountainhead of Hindu nationalism, said: “Those who strayed were lured away. They were looted from us. When the thief is being caught and my property has been recovered, when I am taking back my own property, what is new in it?”

Reports surfaced on December 9 that 57 migrant Muslim families were “reconverted” under the watchful eyes of members of a Hindu fundamentalist group in Uttar Pradesh. Other reports referred to ghar vapasi, or reconversion, of Christians by Hindu fundamentalist groups in December.