Analysis

“Ghar Wapsi unconstitutional, Conversion a constitutional right”

New Delhi: Minorities, particularly Muslims and Christians, are upset with the recent saffron attempts for forced conversions and indications from the Union government to press for a national legislation against conversion. Below are some reactions:
Maulana Syed Jalaluddin Umari (National President, Jamaat-e-Islami Hind):
It is utterly wrong. According to the Constitution of India, everyone has a right to convert himself. You cannot stop him. But this cannot be done through threats or inducements. It is not permitted that, for example, you ask a Muslim to convert to Hinduism and offer him money, ration card etc. Such activities are against the Constitution of the country. Islam considers itself to be right but it does not force anyone to accept it. If one wants to accept it, it is his right. Anti-conversion law would be against the constitutional right. Jamaat-e-Islami Hind has always spoken against conversion with force or inducements. Conversion issue has been in debate for long in India. But when you give freedom about belief and religion, then it is not easy to pass anti-conversion law. While our Constitution says that everyone is free to follow any religion of his choice, you say that conversion is not allowed. There is a clash between the two,” he said.
 
Dr Zafarul Islam Khan (National President, All India Muslim Majlise Mushawarat):
The “ghar wapsi” is an old plan. They have repackaged it as they think that now they enjoy full power and can do whatever they want. “Ghar Wapsi” has been here with different names.  Shuddhi movement was started about 100 years ago. The basis of that movement was the same: that all people in India were Hindus so they should come back to their original religion. If this return journey continues, then who knows where we will end up -- because there were other religions also before Hinduism. This campaign is illegal and unconstitutional. But governments have been promoting such campaign. Earlier Britishers would promote it because they wanted to divide the society and rule. Then the first anti-conversion bill in independent India was brought by the Congress party, and later by  BJP in some states. Minorities will not accept any such move. In the context of Agra incident, BJP wants a national anti-conversion law, which is not easy to achieve. This is their old dream and agenda which they want to implement now as they think their government is in place and the whole country is in their grip. But they don’t know that other communities particularly victims are not sleeping. They will certainly react against such campaign. And such reaction was seen in Agra also where their efforts failed, and they got huge humiliation. The whole conversion campaign and frequent small communal clashes are part of a plan to polarize the country. They want polarisation in the entire country at all levels of elections - whether it is for municipality, assembly or parliament. They raise such issues not just to create polarisation but also to maintain it. There is a division of labour among the Sangh Parivar: one will talk good things and about development. Our PM would say Indian Muslims are very good and loyal, that they would live and die for the country and they cannot think of terrorism. But other forces of the Parivar are spreading hatred and dividing the society and go scot free. The govt. or PM do not speak about them. It is the responsibility of the PM to speak, rather he should order probes against them. They are engineering small riots on a daily basis and in various parts of the country to keep the atmosphere hot in order to encash it politically when they need.

Dr. John Dayal (General Secretary, All India Christian Council)
If people are converting due to poverty, the government should take steps to check it. If conversion is taking place due to caste factor, then steps should be taken to annihilate caste as an institution and if somebody is being converted with physical force, then law of land should be brought in and a case of fraud under Section 420 should be registered. But if they are converting out of free will from any religion, then they must be allowed to do so. Conversion is a constitutional right. I support conversion. Religion and nationality are the only two things that a person can change. Many NRIs have thrown Indian passports and embraced foreign nationalities. Even Indian gurus are travelling all over the world, spreading message of their spiritualism and Hare Rama and Krishna sect has been converting tens and thousands of western people into Hinduism.
 
Fr Dominic Emmanuel (Spokesman, Delhi Catholic Archdiocese)
[On report that a Dalit family has converted to Christianity in Bhagalpur of Bihar and BJP has announced to send a probe team there] Let them send a fact-finding team. They should find out the truth. They are spoiling the atmosphere and openly targeting missionaries and organising Ghar Wapsi and now they want to probe. They should send an all-party and multi-party team to Bihar and ascertain the facts and truth before making allegations. The saffron affiliates have been making all types of allegations. There are allegations against the church. Let people complain. People who have converted are being threatened of social boycott. Until and unless people complain there cannot be any ground of targeting and making allegations. (Adapted from Mumtaz Alam, IndiaTomorrow.net)

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 1-15 January 2015 on page no. 11

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