Wednesday, June 22, 2005

HC directive on conversion in Orissa: Stop Illegal Conversions

Press Trust of India

Cuttack, June 21, 2005

The Orissa High Court has directed the state government to instruct district collectors and superintendents of police to take appropriate action against incidents of religious conversion through use of force, inducement or by fraudulent means.

Taking strong exception to reports of large-scale illegal conversions in the state, a bench of the court comprising Chief Justice Sujit Burman Roy and Justice MM Das asked the government to direct the collectors and SPs to inquire into such actions and take appropriate measure against perpetrators of such activities.

Acting upon a PIL in this connection filed by one Ananta Kumar Satrusalya and 268 others, the court issued notices to the state government returnable within two weeks.

The petitioners, belonging to 19 villages under Mohana police station of Gajapati district had alleged that Christian missionary organisations were engaged in forcible conversions in the area targeting the tribals and poor people.

Despite repeated complaints, the local administration and police remained non-committal about the matter, the petition said.

Directing the Gajapati administration to take action, the court instructed the local police to register cases under sections 3, 4 and 5 of the Orissa Freedom of Religion Act (OFRA) and submit the chargesheet immediately.