05/25/2006, 00.00
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Tamil Nadu: Anti-conversion law to be scrapped shortly

The new government led by the democrats of the DMK, has announced it intends "to completely annul, not amend, the draconian law against forced conversions". Meanwhile, redistribution of fertile land favouring the poorest peasants has started.

Chennai (AsiaNews/CBCI) – The new government of Tamil Nadu, led by the democrats of the Dravida Munnettra Kazhagam (DMK) announced yesterday, 24 May, that the "draconian" law against forced conversions will "be annulled shortly". This law had been approved and introduced by the former government led by the ex prime minister Jayalalithaa, but it was amended by an ordinance following strong protests by Christian and Muslim communities.

Human rights campaigners and religious leaders have said several times over that "the amendment was completely ignored by the police and nationalist activists, who continued to act against us as if nothing had changed."

The government's Vision Document presented to the Assembly by the new governor, Surjit Singh Barnala, stated in clear terms that it intended to "completely annul the law, given that the amendments proved useless, and to undo many of the controversial policies of the earlier regime."

The document also said: "The process of redistribution of fertile land has started and soon we will start to reclaim pieces of government land to rent them to peasants." Further, added the text, "new legislation is ready that will guarantee reserved places for religious minorities in the education field and in the labour market."

Defence of minority rights and respect for the secularism of India were the battle cries of the DMK during the electoral campaign. The Archbishop of Madurai and president of the Tamil Nadu bishops' conference, Mgr Peter Fernando, had called on Catholic believers to "back only secular political forces in the upcoming general election to the State Parliament."

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See also
Anti-conversion bill in Chattisgarh
Indian Church: "Tamil Nadu highlights futility of anti-conversion laws"
Himachal Pradesh introduces anti-conversion law too
Card. Toppo: Church must be 'ad gentes'
Government "should publish data on conversions and anti-Christian attacks"


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