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Religious Freedom Bill ?dangerous?

SPEAKERS AT a seminar organised by the legal cell of the State Congress described the Religious Freedom (amendment) Bill as ?dangerous? and opined that the Governor should not sign it in the larger interest of society. The seminar was held at Sanskriti Bhavan here today.

india Updated: Aug 24, 2006 12:44 IST

SPEAKERS AT a seminar organised by the legal cell of the State Congress described the Religious Freedom (amendment) Bill as ‘dangerous’ and opined that the Governor should not sign it in the larger interest of society. The seminar was held at Sanskriti Bhavan here today.

Former Minister and Congress MLA Ajay Singh, in his address on the occasion, said the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Government in Madhya Pradesh may carry out RSS-inspired experiments in the State but it will fail to convert Madhya Pradesh into another Gujarat.

Singh expressed regret that the Bill was passed in the State Assembly without any debate and said he would like to apologise to everyone for this ‘lapse’. If there had been debate on the Bill, the Congress would have opposed the Bill tooth and nail, he said.

He further said the BJP’s objective was to make India a Hindu nation and since they avoid admitting this, there is always a perceptible difference between what they speak and do.

He further accused the State Government of ‘saffronising’ the police and administration and said if somebody applied to the police seeking religious conversion, he would not be allowed to live in Madhya Pradesh.

Presiding over the function, former DGP Subhash Chandra Tripathi said the Religious Freedom (amendment) Bill was brought in haste and it was not required to involve police in the matter of conversion, which is already over-worked. Besides, police action in such sensitive issues will invariably lead to controversies, he added.

Senior journalist Lajja Shankar Hardeniya, in his address, on the occasion said the Bill was simply not required and it should be sent to the President for advice. Since the Bill has been passed without debate in the House, it should not be ratified, he opined.

Writer Prof Kamla Prasad said efforts should be made to promote harmony between the majority community and the minorities rather than creating rift between the two.

Madhya Pradesh Christian Forum president Indira Aiyenger accused the BJP and allied groups of unnecessarily dragging the Christian community into controversy over conversions and said there is not a single case of conversion by the missionaries substantiated by these groups.

President Minorities Cell of State Congress Syed Sajid Ali felt that there seemed to be no logic or necessity in amending the existing Religious Freedom Act enacted 38 years ago.

State Congress legal cell president J P Dhanopiya welcomed the guests and National Institute of Technical Teachers’ Training (NITTT) chairman Mahendra Singh conducted the seminar.