03/27/2006, 00.00
INDIA
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Rajasthan approves anti-conversion law

Jaipur Bishop "We fears its misuse against minorities". According to the Bill, those found guilty could be imprisoned for two to five years.

Jaipur (AsiaNews/CBCI) – The government of Rajasthan, a central-eastern state of India, yesterday (26 March) approved an anti-conversion law with stringent provisions to deal with "those who carry out conversion activities by means of allurement or fraud".

Human rights groups describe the law as "a norm targeting minority communities in Rajasthan, preventing or limiting their presence". The Bishop of the capital, Jaipur, Mgr Oswald Lewis, said: "This law is against the Indian Constitution and curtails a person's freedom. We fear it will be misused against us."

The "Rajasthan Dharma Swatantrik Vidhayak", or Rajasthan Religious Freedom Bill, would allow authorities to "take any action against conversion" and makes those found guilty liable to imprisonment of two to five years.

Similar laws are already in place in Orissa, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Tamil Nadu: in the last, the law was scrapped by an ordinance but this is deliberately ignored by local authorities.

In Rajasthan, Christians represent 0.11% of the population and Muslims 8%, while Hindus account for 89%.

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