Phulbani: Scores of Christians have converted to Hinduism in Orissa's troubled Kandhamal district in the past weeks to save their lives and properties, a government official admitted on Friday.
"We have received over 50 complaints where people alleged that Hindu villagers are forcing them to convert to Hinduism if want to save their lives and properties," a senior district administration official said.
"Over 30 people have informed us in writing that they changed their religion to Hinduism on their own and without any force," he said, adding that all the complaints were being investigated and action would be taken as per law.
However, President of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), Sajan K George, said that the number of people who converted to Hinduism forcibly would be more than 600.
"The villagers tonsured my head and forced me to drink cow dung water," a victim claimed in a relief camp in this town, the district headquarters of the volatile Kandhamal district that has borne the brunt of the communal violence following the killing of Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati and four of his aides on Aug 23 at his Jalespata Ashram.
Hindus in the region blamed Christians for the killing and went on a rampage against the community.
At least 36 people, mostly Christians, were killed and thousands of homes burnt in the district during the violence. Over 20,000 people, mainly Christians, have taken shelter in relief camps after their houses were torched by rampaging Hindu mobs.
Although there has been no violence since past over two weeks, tension continues in the region over religious conversions.
While night curfew is in force in nine towns in Kandhamal, prohibitory orders banning any gathering of four and more people are in force across the district.