Laba Digal, 50, sits mending flat tires of bicycles and two-wheelers near the thoroughfare in Kasinipada, a village in the district of India that saw the most anti-Christian violence this fall. Digal says he was a Christian until September, when a local head of the radical Hindu group Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) came to him twice.
"He told me to become a Hindu. He said if I did not, I would lose my home. He said I couldn't live in the village as a Christian. I did not want problems. So I accepted," Digal says.
Now a Hindu, Digal says he will get a government certificate stating that he is a Dalit. Such a certificate will make Digal eligible for other affirmative action benefits, such as government jobs reserved for Dalits.
The RSS has been reconverting people like Digal to Hinduism — usually from Christianity — for over a decade. Their reconversion campaign is called "homecoming." It is well organized and has cadres assigned to it almost across the whole of India.
The RSS has groups that use propaganda and groups that use violence. The groups entrusted with the task of getting the message out in words conduct meetings where they denounce the church as evil. They follow that up with warnings that Christians must reconvert to Hinduism or die. The RSS arm entrusted with enforcement follows with attacks.
A 1967 law in Orissa bars religious conversion by use of force and by means of inducement or allurement. The law says that the head of the district administration must permit every conversion. The RSS says that despite the law, few converts to Christianity in Orissa have obtained legal sanction, though the number of Christians in the state is rising fast.
On September 25, 2008 Vidyaram Pandey, the head of an RSS ...