RAIPUR, CHHATTISGARH, INDIA :– The Governor of the Indian state of Chhattisgarh has objected to the ‘anti-conversion bills’ to the dismay of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), who wanted to push through the bill as it has done in Gujarat state.
According to the report carried by Christian Today (www.christiantoday.com), the Governor, Ekkadu Srinivasan Lakshmi Narasimhan, and his predecessor, KM Seth, raised objections to two provisions-“obtaining permission from the district collector before any conversion”, “and allowing people to return to Hinduism and not treating this as conversion,” reported an official.
The Governor questioned why the Government wants an amendment in the existing act which is in force since the days of undivided Madhya Pradesh state.
The BJP came to power in Chhattisgarh -carved out of Madhya Pradesh – in December 2003.
The aggrandizement of Christianity and the accession of Christians in India have worried the BJP who feel that Hindus are being “forcefully converted.” To prevent this from in the future, the BJP wants the “anti-conversion” laws to be passed in the state.
But Christians have been protesting saying that Article 25 of Indian Constitution and Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which guarantee every individual the right to preach, propagate and practice one’s religion and to choose the religion of one’s conscience.
Such draconian laws are bound to be misused; it will only become license to persecute Christian workers who have been already intimidated by an escalation of violent attacks on them lately, they protested. And Christians oppose such laws as it is unconstitutional and against the fundamental rights enshrined in the constitution.
Consequently, similar bills passed by the BJP in other states such as Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan are facing obstacles too.
Though recent Chhattisgarh “anti-conversion” bill proposed by the Hindu radicals ran into trouble after the Governor objected, Christians are told to prepare in the event of such bills are being implemented.
“People with right thinking have never allowed such bills to be passed, but vested interest in political circles are trying their best to pass the bill, but even if such bills are passed Christians must brace themselves to thrive under such measures,” said a Christian minister in Raipur, who asked that his name not be used.
“The reality has changed; the bill can be implemented in any state once political parties like BJP comes into power in both the governments – the state and the centre. We must prepare for such realities too,” he added.
The BJP government in Chhattisgarh has eyed the same on states like Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan-all of them which are facing the same obstacles.
The anti-conversion laws and freedom bills are supposed to curb religious conversions made by “force,” “fraud” or “allurement,” but have been misused by the radicals to.
According to the proposed amendment, a person failing to obtain prior permission for conversion can be imprisoned up to three years or fined up to 20,000 rupees ($488.305 USD).
Those who have taken permission, are to send notice to authorities within one month from the date of conversion, else they face imprisonment up to one year and a fine up to 10,000 rupees ($244.167 USD).
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