West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee today threatened “strong action” against any forcible
conversion in the state saying law will take its own course against those who try to divide people along religious lines.
Without naming any group or person, she said, “Forcible conversion by doling out money is highly objectionable, unconstitutional and against law in our country. We shall take strong action. Law will take its own course.”
“We are in a sovereign, socialist, secular, democratic republic. This is written in our Constitution. Nobody is allowed to forcibly convert people here,” she said.
Banerjee was speaking at the inauguration of a six-day festival ‘Milan Mela’ of the minorities, organised jointly by the Minority Affairs and Madrasa Education Department and West Bengal Minorities Development and Finance Corporation.
Apparently referring to the ruling BJP at the Centre, she said, “You are an elected government and we are also an elected government. We have not come to power on anybody’s mercy. It’s entirely a matter of federal structure. No use in threatening us… Don’t disturb Bengal.”
“If you continue to dishonour Bengal purposefully for political reason, people will give a fitting reply. People will react against each and every attempt you make,” she cautioned.
“If you have enough courage, amend the Constitution first before taking any such move like forcible conversion. Suddenly a stranger appeared from nowhere trying to sow the seeds of communal discord,” Mamata said.
“Nobody is empowered by any authority to kill others in the interest of his/her own comfort. I am observing that recently attempts are being made to pit one religion against other to create confrontation,” she alleged.
On January 28, at least 150 tribal Christians “pledged to follow Hinduism” at a VHP programme in Rampurhat area in Birbhum district.
According to police, there has been no complaint of forced conversion. State VHP leader Sachindranath Singha said about 1,000 people including Christians, Hindus and Muslims attended the programme and no one was forced to change their religion.
Banerjee said the budgetary allocation by her government for the minority affairs and madrasa education department has increased to Rs 1,737 crore from only Rs 472 crore during the erstwhile Left Front government.
While 15 bhavans have already come up for the minorities, five more will come up shortly, she said, adding, “94.5 per cent minorities in the state have already been brought under OBC reservation quota.”
On the occasion, she also distributed grants among representatives of madrasas, Shishu Shiksha Kendras and Madhyamik Shiksha Kendras in minority areas.