Film producer Ali Akbar sparked the controversy by becoming Ramasimhan – the name he chose for himself. He said that Ramasimhan was a man who was killed when he stood close to his culture and therefore that name was appropriate for him. Following disgraceful reactions to the news of the death of General Bipin Rawat, Ali Akbar deactivated his Facebook account. He was also affected by the fact that no religious leader called out such reactions and decided to convert. He made his announcement through a new account. He also said that he would not force his daughters to change religion and that he would leave it to their choice.
Similarly, Jitendra Narayan Singh Tyagi, formerly known as Waseem Rizvi, is the former member and chairman of the Shia Central Waqf Board of Uttar Pradesh; he on his will underwent a religious conversion to Hinduism. He is known for filing a petition in India’s Supreme Court, as well as producing the Bollywood film Ram Ki Janmabhoomi.
Nancy Nagvekar, a social worker said, “Religion is a very personal thing. It is each individual person’s decision and belief. However, what I do not understand is the response of everyone. If a Hindu converted to Islam or Christianity, then so many allegations are made about inducement, love jihad etc. and also there are anti-conversion laws. Why is the same not applied in this case and why there is so much media circus about it”.
Spokesperson of Anjuman Ahya-e-Sunnat says, “Every person has the freedom to choose his religion. When you go to a market, four biscuits are kept in front of you. Every person has their own choices. If someone is using Parle-G, I can’t force him to switch to Oreo by saying it’s sweeter and has cream in it, etc. You get various fruits in the market; you can’t persuade anyone to buy things of your choice. It’s their choice at the end of the day. Wasim Rizvi Sahab is well educated and understands everything. He might have found something appealing in the Hindu religion, so he must have adopted it. There’s nothing to discuss in it.”
When asked about Ali Akbar, “That is a different matter as far as I have read. He was attacked, or maybe he didn’t like some things done by the community and so he joined Hinduism. The same goes here as well, it’s their personal choice.”
President of the All India Jamiatul Quresh Action Committee said, “Syed Waseem Rizvi was not a Muslim at all. Islam has a disciplined life. He was out of discipline prescribed by Islam. He was just using his Muslim name. He was neither a pious person nor a normal Muslim person. If he changes his name, that is for his personal benefit. That does not affect any person from the Hindu or Muslim community. People of all religions know all his activities. He is doing it for his personal gains. This is a cheap publicity stunt.”
When asked about Ali Akbar he said, “I do not know anything about him. But, I know that Islam is a religion of peace and one needs to follow his relationship with god. The practices of Mohammad Sallallahu, we just need to follow that. This is a religion of peace and everything is qualified. Even the scientists didn’t find anything wrong in the practices of the Prophet Mohammad Sallallahu and in the Quran also. Anyone, even if a Muslim is going against the practices of Islam, which should not be appreciated. This is a violation done for his personal benefit.”
Suhail Khandvani of the Haji Ali Trust says, “On the religious platform I would have no comment on this. This is his personal decision to change his religion. It is his individual decision, blaming the circumstances is not good. Syed Waseem Rizvi has made his decision, now fate will speak for him.”
K. Rahman Khan a Veteran Politician belonging to the Indian National Congress and a former Union Minister of Minority Affairs and also Ex-Deputy Chairman of Rajya Sabha said, “It is Syed Waseem Rizvi’s personal choice. We live in a democracy; you may practice any religion you want. The constitution permits it. It is accepted all over the country. It is his individual decision; it is nothing to do with the Muslim community or religion. It is his heart.”
Senior Journalist Vikas Shrivastava said, “It is all about one’s upbringing. Probably he, entire his life, has been taught the other side of Islam. He might be surrounded more by the people who made him inclined towards Hinduism and it is often reflected in his speeches. He always sounded a staunch admirer of Hinduism and its practices.”
Swami Shree Gautam Ji told Afternoon Voice, “Sayed Waseem Rizvi, is most welcome to Satya Sanatan Sanskriti, it’s his late realizations, as we all know Sanatan Dharma is the mother of all Dharma (religion) and community, as you say religion, the actual meaning of Satan Dharm is to live life with a happy soul, rest all religions are just community, not Dharam. On this Earth, only one Dharma exists and that is Sanatan, which means to live life with a happy soul, no violence, no curtly.”
Advocate Abbas Kazmi said, “According to him he was thrown out of Islam and to save his own skin he has converted to Hinduism. There are several cases on him for swindling Wakf properties and monies. His own family has disowned him. He is in no position to criticise Islam. He is playing in the hands of radical and fascist forces.”
Pramod Pandit Joshi, the Spokesperson of Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha said, “Sanatan Religion base is Philosophical. But Islam is not on philosophy, actually, Mohmmad is not Philosopher he listening to some Yahudi philosophy (pravachan) in Damishk. Islam is political religion after khalifa control, deaths of Hasan-Husain. The guide book of Islam was rewritten after Mohammad by khalifa.”
Ambika Prabhu of Hindu Mahasabha said, “Dharm simply means a path of rightness and nothing else… So, who doesn’t want to be good?”
Veteran Journalist Dharmesh Thakkar said, “Religion is a very personal choice and they both have the freedom to decide and take up any religion they feel comfortable with but why make it political? Is it genuine belief and faith that made him convert or political ambitions? All religions are equal and say the same thing. It is our interpretation that creates all the dogmas and communal disharmony.”
BJP’s Nandita Thakur said, “Waseem Rizvi being Ex Muslim has seen Islam closely than me so he knows Islam more than me but incidences that are happening across the world be it in Islamic countries or in non-Islamic countries, be it with believers or non-believers of Islam forces a non-Muslim like me to believe what he is saying.”
T.S. Bhal founder of Red Swastik Society said, “Rizvi, is welcome to most democratic, boundless and magnanimous dharma. He could have retained his name. Anyone who wants to enjoy religious freedom shall refuse to Hindu Sanatan Dharma.”
Dr Minam Ansari said, “I believe they both have all the rights to switch as many religions they want. We are no one to question them for their right to freedom of religion. They also can say anything they want under the pretext of free speech. But we have seen Rizvi’s behaviour in the recent past hurting religious sentiments (still he believes the community is unstable?). What raises eyebrows is the fact that the case was filed against him by the CBI in 2020 for irregularities and misappropriation of Waqf funds. We would like to know if that case continues to hold credence even now.”
Congress Worker, Deepak Bagri said, “Religion brings people together, it’s people who use religion as a tool to spread hate and violence. No religion in the world supports violence and neither does Islam. I wish he would have read the Quran once to know what it stands for. I strongly condemn his statement but also support his right to freedom of religion.”
Syed Waseem Rizvi alias Tyagi was elected a Samajwadi Party (SP) corporator from the Kashmiri Mohalla ward of Old City in Lucknow in 2000, and in 2008, became a member of the Shia Central Waqf Board. In 2012, Tyagi was expelled from the Samajwadi Party for six years after falling out with Shia cleric Kalbe Jawad, who accused him of misappropriation of funds. Tyagi termed these charges as “cooked up” motivated by the desire to “weaken his argument”. Tyagi later got relief from the court and was reinstated. In January 2018, Tyagi wrote to the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh and the Prime Minister of India, seeking the abolition of Madrasas and said that some of them act as breeding grounds for terrorists instead of ensuring jobs for Muslims.