Trinamool Congress reacted strongly to the conversion of at least 150 tribals by the right-wing group Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) in West Bengal's Birbhum district on Wednesday.
The VHP admitted to organising a conversion ceremony for the conversion of Christian tribals to Hinduism in Birbhum's Rampurhat area, but denied forcing it upon them.
"A programme was today organised at a village near Rampurhat. It was attended by about 1,000 people including Christians, Hindus and Muslims. During the programme, a 'yajna' - a ritual of fire - was held and about 150 Christians participated in it and took a pledge to follow Hindu path of life," state VHP leader Sachindranath Singha told PTI.
"We didn't force anyone to change their religion. This is not conversion as projected by the media as no legal procedure was followed which is needed for conversion."
VHP President Praveen Togadia too admitted that a conversion camp was held and said "If someone wanted to become a Hindu. How can we stop it? We have announced various schemes to help each and every Hindu family from arranging employment to providing education to Hindu children."
Meanwhile, Trinamool Congress' Rajya Sabha chief Derek O'Brien has warned of strict action if investigation reveals forced conversion as West Bengal has never witnessed any communal tensions, according to IANS.
"Bengal has a long history of living in communal harmony and bigots like (Pravin) Togadia will be dealt with ruthlessly. Let me say this, if there is even a hint of coercion or forced conversion the issue will be dealt with in the strongest manner possible," O'Brien tweeted.
An investigation has been ordered by the state government and "Initial reports suggests that those converted near VHP rally are BJP workers who were lured," O'Brien tweeted.