Friday, February 24, 2006

Rajasthan plans to ban conversions

Special Correspondent

Expected to target Christian missionaries

JAIPUR: The Bharatiya Janata Party-led Government in Rajasthan is planning to introduce a Bill during the budget session of the Assembly starting February 28 outlawing religious conversions.

The proposed Bill is expected to target Christian missionaries even as some radical organisations have launched a major offensive against Christian organisations across the State.

At a press conference here on Saturday Home Minister Gulab Chand Kataria said the draft Bill was being given final touches. "We are trying to table it in the Assembly's Budget session and get it passed into legislation as soon as possible."

Activists of the Bajrang Dal, Shiv Sena and other bodies affiliated to the Sangh Parivar have been attacking churches and mission schools, especially in southern Rajasthan, for several months now alleging that they were enticing tribals and poor Hindus to convert to Christianity.

Attacks on Christians have intensified after the publication of a book "Haqeeqat" (Reality) which allegedly derided Hindu and Jain deities. Miscreants vandalised two mission schools in Jaipur.

Asked about the steps being taken to protect the lives and properties of Christians, Mr. Kataria said the book had hurt the religious sentiments of Hindus with its "objectionable and provocative contents" and had since been banned. Action would be taken against those promoting communal tension, irrespective of their religious persuasion.

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