MP: Governor asked to reject Anti-conversion bill’13

July 13, 2013 by  
Filed under newsletter-india

ConversionMadhya Pradesh, July 11, 2013: Isai Maha Sangh (IMS) held a meeting of Christians and other organizations to express its  disagreements to the amendments made to the existing Anti-conversion Law in Madhya Pradesh Government. After a detailed study report of the present Amendment Bill 2013, the Anti-conversion Bill of 2006 and the existing M.P Anti-conversion law of 1968, IMS sees the move as an effort by BJP-led Government to consolidate the Hindu vote just before the elections. The pro Hindu state government had earlier passed the Freedom of Religion Amendment Bill 2013 in the Assembly in a surreptitious manner on 10 July, 2013 along with about twenty other Bills in merely 20 minutes!

The present Bill has provisions that prior to conversion, the priest who takes part in the ceremony as performer of religious ceremony or even as a participant will have to seek prior permission in a prescribed form set by the government from the District Collector. It also makes compulsory for the person who gets converted to inform the District Magistrate with provision to severely punish the violators of the same.

Fr. Anand Muttungal, Isai Maha Sangh coordinator said, “ we do not object the right of the Government to enact a law but it should be in accordance with the Constitution of India, besides there is no alarming situation in Madhya Pradesh of conversions for such an amendment. Our information from different districts through RTI reveals that there has not been forced conversions in Madhya Pradesh. The present Bill has violated the provision in the Constitution of India Articles 19, 21 and 25 and must be rejected.” Isai Maha Sangh president Sujit Williams has called upon all citizens to reject the Bill. He has asked the district units protest the against Bill. He said, “we will be submitting a memorandum to Governor through all divisional headquarters in Madhya Pradesh. The Bill impinges the rights of people.”

Isai Maha Sangh general secretary, Jerry Paul compared the present Bill with the earlier one passed in the Assembly in 2006. It had clear provisions of investigation by the District Superintendent of Police and only if the clearance was obtained from police, conversion could be done. The constitutional validity was questioned and it was rejected by the then President of India in 2009. If the state Governor gives his sanction, then IMS will approach the High Court to protect the rights of people.”

During the BJP rule there has been over hundred attacks against Christians in Madhya Pradesh and about 35 false cases of attempts to forced conversion have been registered. Two cases have so far been disposed as false cases. The coordinator of secular movements against Anti-conversion Bill, Mr. L S Herdenia said, “we have freedom to adopt any religion according to their conscience. We are uniting people to come together safeguard their rights enshrined in the Constitution. We will use all means including legal options to safeguard our Fundamental Rights.”

The Bill has also increased fine from rupees one thousand to rupees one lakh if the law is violated. Christians fear that this Bill will be misused by fundamentalist Hindutva organizations more ferociously than before. The Isai Maha Sangh is also planning to call for an open debate to communicate the basic principles of conversion in Christianity. This is because the whole law is based on the misconception that forced conversion is permitted in Christianity.

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