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Jaya sings Sangh Parivar tune: Christian Council

The All India Christian Council has decided to challenge in Court the Ordinance banning religious conversions "by force or fraud" promulgated on the night of 5 October by the Governor of Tamil Nadu on the directions of cief minister J Jayalalithaa, Christian Council President Dr Joseph D’Souza and Secretary General Dr John Dayal said in a statement. "Chief minister Jayalalithaa has acted in concert with the Sangh Parivar and is trying to implement the Hindutva agenda in the southern state, the Council said. Following is the text of the statement:
"Forcible or induced conversion is an oxymoron. It is not possible, and is rejected by the Church. Conversion is the exercise of free choice by an Individual in fulfillment of his or her own spiritual needs. This is a basic Human Right and is guaranteed in the Indian Constitution and by the United Nations. Various state governments which have raised the bogey of induced or forcible conversions have failed to find out even a single such case in the past," the Council said.

These laws are primarily directed against the Christian community although in Tamil Nadu and in some other states, Dalits and other marginalised groups who are victims of extreme violence and social pressure have also converted to Islam and to Buddhism. On 4 November 2001, tens of thousands of Dalits converted to Buddhism in a ceremony in New Delhi and subsequently several such ceremonies were held in Uttar Pradesh and other states. They are designed to curtail all Christian development work among the marginalised.

"In fact, the only inducements by fraud and fear are those being carried out by the Bajrang Dal, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and the RSS in the Tribal belt under the guise of Ghar Wapsi programme where innocent tribals are being forced to become Hindus. The Council has already urged the National Minorities Commission to investigate the Sangh’s Ghar Wapsi programme in the Tribal belt in which heavily armed thugs have been involved."

"The Constitutional provisions are also being violated by the Census office, which disallows tribals proclaiming the Sarna religion, and by several state government who lump all tribals, animists and others into the majority religion," the Council said. "These denote a Hindutva mind set and denies to marginalised people the option of free choice, conscience and freedom of faith."

The Council, which is already challenging a similar law in Orissa, is consulting senior legal experts on the Tamil Nadu ordinance, which has been issued just days before the State assembly is to move. The Ordinance’s timing also coincides with a stringent anti-Christian campaign launched by the Sangh Parivar in several other parts of the country, including Karnataka, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Jharkhand.

The Shiva Sena and the Bharatiya Janata party have been demanding similar laws in all states and at the national level. Shiv Sena leader Anant Geethe, recently promoted as cabinet minister in the Union cabinet of Prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee is the author of a similar Bill pending in the Lok Sabha. Curiously, that Bill says free education will be construed as an "inducement" for religious conversions and will invite heavy penalties. This thoroughly exposes the real intent and motives behind such laws, the Council said.

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