India Needs Anti-Conversion Law and needs it now!
A religion conversion debate has roared across the news channels, political speeches and in local communities since past few months. Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP), the major leading Hindu nationalist party claims to implement an Anti-Conversion Law in India in order to prevent the mass conversion of lower Hindu communities. The point to consider here is whether the implementation of such a law in the fifth secular state would protect the religious rights of Hindu majority or not. But to our dismay the party in power has done little or nothing to implement any such a law that would forcefully, or deceivingly luring the uneducated poor Hindus to other religion for mass conversion of entire village or city seems to be taking as into a very dangerous path.
Freedom of Religion in the Secular State
Hindustan, a jewel of East Asia emerged as a Hindu state but there also exist a vast majority of followers of Muslims, Christians, Jains and Sikhs. Surprisingly, other prominently followed religions of the world emerged from India including Jainism, Buddhism and Sikhism. As part of human rights every individual is free to profess any religion of his choice without discrimination. The secular state in its preamble of the state’s constitutions declares that the state will not refrain a person from profession of a religion. This strengthens the religious rights by making them their fundamental rights. Article 25 of state’s constitution supports the concept of religious freedom that, “all persons are equally entitled to freedom of conscience and the right to freely profess, practice, and propagate religion subject to public order, morality and health.” Article 26 allows one to deal with the affairs of his life by the referring his religion. The idea of religious freedom previously raised debates, conflicts and riots among various groups.
However, other Indian political parties raised their views on the equality of religious freedom among majority and minority groups, claiming that the amount of rights possessed by the majority religious groups should be equal to the minority religious groups. They are satisfied with the Article 29 or 30 which says that, “any right given to any minority group shall equally be accorded to those that are classified as a majority, such as the freedom to run educational institutions without interference.”
Forceful Implication of Religion
It was observed that majority Christians and Muslims residing in Indian are converting the minorities of Hindus by intimidating, threatening, deceivingly luring them and by other acts including Love Jihad, miracle healing and more. Religion is a matter of faith in god. One cannot forcibly impose faith in religion. K. M. Munshi in terms of religious freedom offered in the constitution said, “The Indian Christian community laid the greatest emphasis, not because they wanted to convert people aggressively, but because the word “propagate” was a fundamental part of their tenet…I am sure, under the freedom of speech which the Constitution guarantees it will be open to any religious community to persuade other people to join their faith. So long as religion is religion, conversion by free exercise of conscience has to be recognized.”
There were so many incidents in India where mass conversion was on peak and was done by bribing and forcing Hindu minorities. YS Rajashekhar Reddy, once chief minister of united Andhra Pradesh, during his tenure, joining forces with his son in-law Pastor Anil Kumar, started mass conversions of Dalit Hindus in the rural areas of the then Andhra Pradesh. The rise of the evangelical activities was very alarming. He sanctioned money to repair damaged churches and even build so many new churches. Mr.Reddy, even dared to extend his mass conversion activities to Hindu holy places such as srisailam, ahobilam, badrachalam,kalahasthi and worse of all in Tirumala and Tirupathi, The biggest Hindu holy shrine in the whole world. While he was spending all the money on the churches, with the money that was earned from the Hindu temples, the temples were only getting 15% from their income as maintenance.
The mass conversions of rural Hindus were on rise in Kerala and Tamilnadu for the past five years, although Kerala was a victim of the conversions for over a century. The Christian missionaries operate very smoothly targeting rural paper with tricks such as fraudulent healing, marketing campaigns and mass prayers. The facts of these operations are available in social media, mainly YouTube and Facebook. These groups are funded by the west and were given a road map to follow. As per a government record from2011, Hindus in India are 79% down from 86% (most importantly 79% including million converted Christians continue to record them as Hindus to get reservation in Jobs by Government and other benefits) That’s no surprise given the higher mass conversions. At this rate, if no action is taken, Hindus will become minority in India which was once a complete Hindu country.
In Agra, a Muslim boy befriended a Hindu girl posing as Hindu for five years. One day, he revealed his real identity and forced the girl to convert to Islam to get married. The girl was shocked and denied the conversion. When the girl negated for conversion Muslim boy threatened her to expose their relationship and even threatened of physical assault. There was one similar incident in West Bengal as well. Incidents like these are on the rise while government of India has no laws controlling them.
There has always been a war in Europe between Catholics and Romans since the 16th century. Due to which Christianity remains as the most prominent religion of the continent. But unfortunately people have become deprived from it and it seems that Europeans are trying to impose their religion in India through their minority groups. The Christian groups residing in India are forcefully imposing religion on the Hindu groups. Hinduism has prevailed in the entire country for decades and such minority groups even through threats cannot decrease the importance of Hinduism. The Hindus have also rejected the funds of Europeans saying that they do not need aid from Christians, claiming that they can feed the poor and needy themselves. But continuously dwindling Hindus number could make Hindus in their own country as minority sooner or later if something is not done now.
There are many other methods through which the authority can maintain discipline and reduce forceful conversion of Hindus. The state carries acts which declare punishments for the attempts of conversion. A convict found guilty would serve imprisonment from 1 to 3 years with the fine of 5000 to 25000 Indian rupees. The state authority has introduced National Human Right Commission (NHRC) to deal with the affairs of religious groups and to analyze the religious discrimination among them. Himachal Pradesh through The Freedom of Religious Act passed in 2006 supported the issue of forceful conversion. The law was accepted in 2007 and it states that, “No person shall convert or attempt to convert, either directly or otherwise, any person from one religion to another by the use of force or by inducement or by any other fraudulent means nor shall any person abet any such conversion.”
Decades of Practice of Anti-Conversion Law
To simply define the Anti-Conversion Law, it is the practice in which one can convert his religion from one to another on his own will. One cannot impose a religion by false means such as by threat or by building fear of punishment in afterlife.
Before the independence of India, various Princely ruled states had followed the anti-conversion acts which were not followed during British rule in India. The Raigarh State Conversion Act 1936 and the Sarguja State Apostasy Act 1945 are some of the early examples. Similarly, other raja ruled states as Bikaner Jodhpur, Kalhandi and Kota followed the concept of anti-conversion. The idea was to prevent anti-Hindu conversion taking place in the states. After the independence the need to establish laws to protect the allured conversion of religion excessively rose. A large number of Hindus were reported in forceful conversion either into Christian or Muslims. Even in 1960s, it was reported that in Madhya Pradesh a large population of a tribe known as Adivasis were forcefully converted into Christianity without their will. It placed a high pressure on government to action against such unlawful acts. Upon this the government concerned a commission led by Dr Bhavani Shankar Niyogi, a retired Judge of the Madhya Pradesh High Court along with other members of the commission. Through their investigations the report was confirmed that Christian since a very long time had been involved into religion conversion. The government of India protected the right of possession of religion in its constitution. Such anti-Hindu conversions disturb the faith of Hindus and violate the harmony of peaceful practice of Hinduism. It creates chaos in the country disturbing the law and order situation. Such barriers in following the true religion, Hinduism, are successfully put off by Narendra Modi.
Efforts of Peaceful Conversion in Modi’s Government
The practice of Anti-Conversion Law in 21st century is being followed in few parts of India as Chhattisgarh Orissa, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, and Himachal Pradesh. In Gujrat it is the part of the rule that one must request permission from district magistrate 30 days before the day of his conversion. Orissa and Madhya Pradesh have been following the Anti-Conversion Law since 1960s. They do not require the converter to request any kind of permission from the magistrate while Madhya Pradesh restricts the converter to inform the magistrate soon after the conversion. Arunachal Pradesh has this law in their state but it has not been implement yet. The idea of informing the magistrate is to control the forceful conversion. In this manner the local authority is able to know the reason of conversion as well.
“Caste matters little for us when the person is back in Hindu dharma. But if he or she wants a particular caste, it is made accessible to them” –Vyankatesh Abdeo.
Vyankatesh Abdeo, a national secretary of a Hindu organization Vishwa Hindu Parishad, has successfully helped anti-Hindus as Christians and Muslims to convert into their true religion. He has converted 700,000 Indian Christians and Muslims to Hinduism. In his opinion people living in India were originally Hindus and not Christians and Muslims. At earlier times they were forced to convert on the force of weapons but instead their mission is to reconvert them to Hinduism by preaching their true religious values. They want to revive their faith in Hinduism and to guide them to the correct path. The program was called “ghar wapsi”, which means Home Coming.
Central Government in India is making its efforts to protect the ancient religion residing in the hearts of Hindu nation. They have introduced the Anti-Conversion Law to protect the forceful conversion of religion in the country. Although the issue had existed in the society since a very long time but after many incidents of mass conversion of Hindus into Christianity along with other harsh treatment of Hindu community, a political debate has risen. Citizens of India according to the constitution own this right to profess religious freedom. Narendra Modi claims to govern a secular state and he has proved to protect the rights of Hindus. Although many states have laws against anti-conversions they are not being strictly implemented as they lack support from Central government.
Although Modi is doing something it is not enough to stop conversion. For Anti-conversion, Central government has to pass a bill and get it strictly implemented. The bill should have strict ban on foreign funds to Christian missionaries and churches in India. Some even operate under the hide of a NGO. The bill should also include terms to restrict foreign NGOs from entering India during national calamities. Ideally these NGOs they come to help initially and will start their act of converting people. People are vulnerable when they are poor and when they need help. The bill should have strict laws against providing benefits, subsidies and reservations to those who are converted. India is a Hindu nation, If we fight for own rights we would remain Hindus. If we don’t act against conversion we will live in our own country as minorities. Bharat Mata ki Jai.
- Vishal Arora. September 11, 2015. Sixth Indian state seeks to adopt ‘anti-conversion law’. Retrieved from https://www.worldwatchmonitor.org/2015/09/4008146/
- Freedom of religion in India. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freedom_of_religion_in_India
- Shashank Bengali and Parth M.N. December 25, 2014. Hindu activists organize mass ‘reconversion camps’ in India. Retrieved from http://www.latimes.com/world/asia/la-fg-india-conversions-20141225-story.html
- Tehmina Arora. 27 June, 2016. The Spread of Anti-conversion Laws from India. Retrieved from http://evangelicalfocus.com/blogs/1734/The_Spread_of_Anticonversion_Laws_from_India#_edn5
- Dr. Dominic Emmanuel SVD. March 2, 2016.Freedom of Conscience in the context of Anti-conversion Laws: A Perspective from South Asia. Retrieved from http://theunn.com/2016/04/freedom-of-conscience-in-the-context-of-anti-conversion-laws-a-perspective-from-south-asia/