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HindustanTimes Thu,23 Oct 2014

Home dept proposes anti-conversion bill

Mugdha Variyar , Hindustan Times  Mumbai, July 05, 2013
First Published: 10:08 IST(5/7/2013) | Last Updated: 10:27 IST(5/7/2013)

After several failed attempts, including the one in 1996 when a proposal was put forth by BJP legislator Mangal Prabhat Lodha, the state is contemplating an anti-conversion bill yet again.

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A senior state government official said that the bill was proposed by the home department a few months ago and was being examined by the departments concerned.

“It started as a private member bill, but was proposed by the home department about five months ago. We are currently examining it,” said a senior official from the minorities development department, on condition of anonymity.

“In a recent meeting, the Christian groups were against the bill,” the official added.

Dolphy D’souza, a Catholic activist and former vice-president of the All India Catholic Union, on Thursday, sent a letter to the chief minister, urging him to ensure the bill does not get passed.

“I learned from a highlevel source in the bureaucracy about two weeks ago that the bill was being looked at again. So, I sent a letter to the chief minister and the additional chief secretary of the minorities development department, asking them to ensure that the bill is discarded. Minorities such as Christians are already being harassed by authorities on false accusations of forceful conversions. This will become another tool for harassment,” he said, adding that he would ask other groups to start a campaign against the bill soon

Munaf Hakim, chairman of the state minorities commission, said that he was not in favour of the bill.

“After reading the bill, it is clear that it could be a source of harassment. The minorities commission will never support it,” said Hakim.

The bill would make official permission from district level authorities necessary for religious conversion.

Activists said it could be used to harass religious groups through false allegations.

The additional chief secretary of the state home department was unavailable for comment.


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