2006-05-26 15:49:44

Central Indian state of Chhattisgarh to make anti-conversion law more stringent

(26 May 2006) : The government of the central Indian state of Chattisgarh, run by the Bharatiya Janata Party – BJP, India’s largest political party with national-fundamentalist leanings – has declared its intention to approve a law penalizing those who change their faith without informing the authorities. The Bill states that those wishing to change their religion must inform the concerned district magistrate a month in advance before the change. The penalty for those violating the law, including those who convert people forcibly could be between Rs 50,000 and a lakh and imprisonment up to 5 years. The Bill is proposed to be introduced in the monsoon session of the State Assembly. The Article 25 of the Indian Constitution enshrines freedom of religion which allows Indian citizens to profess and propagate their religion. However, the Chattisgarh government argues that such a law is not against the provisions laid down in the Constitution. Various BJP-ruled and supported states such as Madhya Pradesh, Orissa and Gujarat have such anti-conversion laws. The Bill in Chattisgarh has been undertaken at the behest of the BJP chief, Rajnath Singh who has asked the state government to bring in strict legislation against conversions.

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