Anti-conversion bill: BJP eyes help of 'secular parties' | india | Hindustan Times
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Anti-conversion bill: BJP eyes help of 'secular parties'

india Updated: Jan 03, 2015 19:11 IST
Amit Shah

Asserting that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was against conversions and re-conversions, party chief Amit Shah has sought the support of "secular parties" to bring an anti-conversion bill.

"We are against forceful conversions and re-conversions. Neither our party nor the NDA government is involved in the 'ghar wapsi' (homecoming) programme. We seek support of the so-called secular parties for a strong legislation against conversions," Shah told reporters in Bangalore, formerly known as Bengaluru.

Regretting that no secular party had come forward to introduce the anti-conversion bill, he said the ruling BJP was in favour of such a law to check conversions.

"There is a need for a strong anti-conversion law to prevent conversions by anyone, be they Christians, Muslims or Hindus," Shah said.

Noting that the BJP had nothing to do with the 'ghar-wapsi' programme of some Hindu right-wing groups, Shah said his party did not believe in such conversions.

The Dharma Jagran Samiti, a group affiliated to the BJP, was allegedly behind the forceful conversions of about 250 Muslim families to Hinduism in Uttar Pradesh in November, kicking up a political storm.

Religious conversions have long been a lightning rod for identity politics in India, whose history is scarred with episodes of blood-letting of citizens divided on faith and ethnicity.

Such religion-driven politics took a backseat in the last decade of economic boom, but signs of a more assertive Hindu right have surfaced since the election of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, adding to a climate of fear. Communal tension reached its peak after the alleged conversion of dozens of Muslims in Agra, Uttar Pradesh, in December.

Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS)-affiliate groups announced plans for more such 'ghar-wapsi (homecoming)', with RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat daring political rivals to bring in a law to ban religious conversions if they wanted to stop such events.

The issue triggered a ruckus in the Winter Session. The ruling BJP, however, distanced itself from the controversy and said it was against forced conversions.