A private member bill to ban forced conversion was tabled in state legislature assembly on Friday. The bill to provide for prohibiting of conversion from one religion to another by the use of force or allurement or by fraudulent means and for matters incidental was mooted by senior BJP (MLA) Atul Bhatkhalkar.
Stating the aims and objective behind the move, senior BJP leader who is also the general secretary of the party said, “Any conversion using coercive method is highly objectionable. Taking advantage of someone’s poverty and luring them to religious conversion cannot be justified and have to be curbed.”
While emphasising the bill is not aimed at attacking anybody’s freedom to practice any religion of choice, what needs to be checked is wrongdoing where individuals are forced into conversion through devious methods. Often innocent or poor people fall prey to such tactics which is not correct, observed Bhatkhalkar.
He said, “If any individual wants to convert from one religion to another without any external or internal pressure that is his/her decision which have to respected. The individual generally approaches the collector to register the change of religion.”
The purpose of bringing the bill is limited to arresting the pressure tactics adopted for religious conversions, he added.
The Mumbai (BJP) MLA, Ashish Shelar, said, “I would like to emphasise that religious freedom would not be compromised at any cost. Every individual whether it is Hindu, Muslim, Chirstians or Jains, Sikh et al will have their rights to practice the religion of their choice. I would like to re-emphasise that government believes in freedom of religious practise without interference. There would be no compromise on the freedom of religion which is enshrined by the Indian Constitution at any point in the act.”
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