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  • » 11/10/2010, 00.00

    INDIA

    Jharkhand: Hindu fundamentalists want anti-conversion law

    Santosh Digal

    The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party are pushing for a law that would introduce a statewide ban on the conversion of Hindus to other religions. Similar laws are in place in seven other Indian states. Catholics are critical of the project.

    Ranchi (AsiaNews) – The state of Jharkhand, backed by the Hindu fundamentalist Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) administration, is prepared to adopt a law that would prevent Hindus from converting to other religions.  “Everyone should oppose it. Everyone should join forces against the planned anti-conversion law,” said Fr Stan Kujur, a Jesuit clergyman from Jameshedpur.

    Jaggnath Sahi, RSS chief in Jharkhand, told journalists that his organisation would asks the BJP-lead government to draft a bill banning religious conversions.

    “We will take up the issue with Chief Minister Arjun Munda . . . to draft a law to ban conversion in the state. Conversion in any form should be condemned,” Sahi said. “Conversion is banned in many countries like China, Israel and others. It is only in India where conversion is not banned,” he added.

    The seven Indian states with anti-conversion legislation, formally known as Freedom of Religion Acts, are Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Orissa, Arunachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh.

    These laws require the government to check conversions from Hinduism to other religions in order to avoid proselytising, manipulation or the use of financial incentives. The law does not prevent conversion from Christianity or Islam to Hinduism.

    For Fr Kujur, professing one’s religion “is a matter of freedom of conscience”, a matter of personal rights, something that is enshrined in the Indian constitution. Such is the nature of democracy.

    “No one should be forced to profess one religion or another,” he said. The RSS’s anti-conversion plan “is not necessary”.

    The state government should focus instead on development and the welfare of the people, Fr Kujur stressed.

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    See also

    16/04/2009 INDIA
    What Indian Christians can hope from these elections
    Voting, which began today, is scheduled to last a month. For Christians two factors are a potential sign of change: the end of the alliance between the BJP and Orissa’s Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and his party, and the election of a new leader to Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS or National Volunteers' Organisation).

    12/12/2007 INDIA
    More than 500 cases of anti-Christian violence in 23 months
    Members of the Church, believers and places of worship have been victimised. A Christian group has collected the evidence and has slammed the collusion and protection with Hindu nationalists. Now it wants the central government act against the violence which is “worse than terrorist attacks.” The bishop of Vasai calls on believers of every faith to work together for human rights.

    12/08/2014 INDIA
    Ultranationalist Indians to impose Hindutva on religious minorities
    Social activist Ram Puniyani sounds the alarm after recent statements by the president of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). The Hindu leader said that Hindutva is the "cultural identity of all Indians", which radical groups want to impose in order to create an "all Hindu" state.

    15/02/2005 INDIA
    Hindu fundamentalists beat up six Christian theology students in Kerala
    RSS activists are behind the attack. An evangelical pastor is killed in Karnataka.

    02/09/2009 INDIA
    Jharkhand calls on the Church to help with drought emergency, a step opposed by Hindu extremists
    The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh charges the government of being “run on communal lines”, something which “will prove dangerous for the people.” For the local BJP president, the new policy is “an attempt to Christianise the State.” For him “Congress wants to win the [next] election with the support of the Church.”



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