Govt in no rush to bring in anti-conversion law, says consensus needed

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Dec 22, 2014 02:40 IST

The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and the BJP have tried to use the political row over forced religious conversions to raise the pitch for an anti-conversion bill, but the government is in no mood to oblige them immediately.

A day after RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat and BJP chief Amit Shah dared the opposition to support an anti-conversion bill a senior minister told HT: "There are no such plans in the government as of now. It's a matter of debate and legislation is only possible when there is greater consensus among stakeholders".

Parliamentary affairs minister M Venkaiah Naidu, who last week sought to break the stalemate in the Rajya Sabha and take the wind out of the opposition's sail by offering to enact a legislation banning religious conversion, reiterated on Sunday that the centre would not 'forcibly and unilaterally bring a law to ban conversions'.

Government leaders told HT an anti-conversion bill may be seen as running contrary to the right to freely "propagate" religion, as prescribed in the constitution, but was necessary to deal with allegation of allurement or force to change religion.

The RSS - whose arm Dharma Jagran Manch is carrying out the ghar wapsi (homecoming) programme - had jumped on the anti-conversion bandwagon. RSS's publicity chief Manmohan Vaidya told HT the ghar wapsi was different from conversion and if re-conversion was illegal so was the conversion that happened in the first place.

The CPM, however, said that RSS' reconversions and call for a law to ban conversions were both directed against religious minorities and intended to sharpen communal divisions. The left party argued there was no need for an anti-conversion law as Section 153 (a) of the IPC already classifies "forcible conversion attempts in the name of religion as a criminal offence".

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