» 07/09/2013, 00.00
Madhya Pradesh, clergymen “in danger” due to the anti-conversion
The state government will discuss in parliament the application about an amendment that also involves religious leaders. In the case of a conversion, a priest must communicate the data of the person concerned to the authorities 30 days before the ceremony. Those who violate the decree are liable to a fine and up to three years in prison.
Mumbai (AsiaNews) - A new hold on conversions is likely to
befall Madhya Pradesh: these days the Government of the Indian State will
discuss in Parliament an amendment to the anti-conversion law already in force.
The change requires priests to provide local authorities all the details of the
person who decides to change his or her religion at least 30 days before the ceremony.
Otherwise, he risks a fine of 1000 rupees (€13) and up to three years in
The amendment concerns section 5 of the Madhya Pradesh
Freedom of Religion Act of 1968 and was introduced in 2006, without being
debated in Parliament. In the original version, the law did not involve the
priest, but asked only the future convert to inform the district authorities of
his or her decision.
For Sajan George, President of the Global Council of
Indian Christians (GCIC), the conversion laws "are aimed at demonizing
the Christian minority and are used as an instrument of persecution". Like
Madhya Pradesh, other Indian States as well have introduced similar measures:
Gujarat, Orissa, Chhattisgarh, Himanachal Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, and
Rajasthan. "These laws", he adds, "are a challenge to the
secular credentials of our constitution and fundamental human rights".
In theory, these measures should prohibit conversions
obtained by force or with money, and three years in prison for
"proselytism". However, they are exploited to persecute Christians,
by producing false allegations of forced conversions.
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The incidents are driven by ultra-nationalist Hindus (Bharatiya Janata Party, BJP). In both cases, the police arrested the Christians. Sajan George, the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC): "Disturbing pattern, made of social pressures and violence."
Madhya Pradesh makes anti-conversion law tougher
The state assembly yesterday approved with a voice vote and without parliamentary debate a decree that strengthens the anti-conversion law. The Christian Association has protested.
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