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HomeIndiaAfter 'love jihad', Madhya Pradesh govt targets missionaries, rakes up 'Christian conversions'

After ‘love jihad’, Madhya Pradesh govt targets missionaries, rakes up ‘Christian conversions’

Addressing two events in tribal-dominated Umaria and Badwani districts this week, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan alleged forced conversion of tribals to Christianity.

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Bhopal: BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh is all set to move the Freedom of Religion Bill, 2020 to curb ‘love jihad’ cases in a three-day assembly session beginning 28 December.

While the term itself is a coinage by Right-wing groups that seeks to accuse Muslim men of converting Hindu women by marriage, the new bill in Madhya Pradesh will skip the word ‘Muslim’, according to sources in the state government. Also, of late, various state leaders have suddenly started targeting Christian missionaries for carrying out conversions in the guise of offering seva (service).

Allegations of ‘forced’ religious conversions to Christianity is an issue which the state has been battling for decades. Madhya Pradesh was the first state to pass a law curbing forced religious conversions for any purpose, including marriage, in 1968. This was mainly aimed at arresting conversions from Hinduism to Christianity.

Addressing two events in tribal-dominated Umaria and Badwani districts in the last four days, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan had accused Christians of forcibly trying to convert tribals.

While addressing an event at Badwani Friday, Chouhan recalled how Birsa Munda, a 19th century tribal freedom fighter from present-day Jharkhand, took on missionaries who sought to engage in large-scale conversions.

The chief minister also went on to say that missionaries should offer services but not in the hope of converting the beneficiary’s faith. Any attempt at conversion, either by force or offering allurement will be strictly punished, he added.

At Umaria, however, Chouhan restrained from using the word missionaries even as he attacked conversions to Christianity.


Also read: Why ‘secular’ Shivraj has embraced aggressive Hindutva on ‘love jihad’, cow and more


‘We don’t forcibly convert people’

The Archbishop of Bhopal, Leo Cornelio, however said Chouhan’s allegations were part of the BJP’s politics.

“This is politics, not religion. Politicians make laws to create divisions in the society and to benefit electorally from them. My fear is that more laws you make the more rogues are likely to use them against minorities and the weaker sections,” Corenlio told ThePrint.

He added, “Everyone enjoys freedom of religion in the country. We don’t forcibly convert people. Conversion is not man’s activity…it’s god’s grace. One can always return to one’s original religion.”

The Archbishop also said the number of Christians in the country, including in MP, has not increased in the last three decades. He also alleged that many fake cases have been lodged in Madhya Pradesh against Christians.

This isn’t the first time that the BJP government in the state has targeted missionaries. Ahead of the 2003 assembly elections, former chief minister Uma Bharati had alleged that tribals were being converted in areas like Jhabua and Alirajpur.

Chouhan, who became the chief minister in late 2005, had tried to amend the Madhya Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act, 1968, to make it more stringent by increasing punishment and making prior permission for conversions compulsory.

The assembly had passed the amendments in July 2006 without any discussion. When the bill reached Governor Balram Jakhar’s office at the time he refused to give his assent and asked the government to provide him details of conversions in the state since 1967.

The bill was later sent to the President but it never got an assent. The Chouhan government had passed another bill to amend the 1968 anti-conversion law in 2013 but it did not get assent either.


Also read: MP Police registers FIR against Netflix over temple kissing scenes in ‘A Suitable Boy’


 

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4 COMMENTS

  1. In contemporary India accusation like forced conversion is a charge foisted upon Christianity without evidences. In ancient times, such thing had happened. The victorious king imposed all sorts of thing upon the vanquished. At present, who could force who to convert? Does anyone have resources to guard anyone 24×7 with the threat that returning to the previous religion will invite capital punishment? Issue of forced conversion is a bogus charge.

  2. Dear CM/ PM
    State our country you cannot contol properly, GDP you are not aware. But still new mantra for cheating public. Indians are educated but you people need better education for governance.

    Jai jawan Jai kisaan / Vande bharat

  3. Christianity is not like a business venture. It is spiritual and righteous and true worship of God. Service is not done with intention of gain but done on Christ command to love and serve the people especially the poor. I don’t understand what this forcible conversion means. And also fraud and allurement.The church doesn’t have any money. The people have to give contribution for the priest and church maintenance and not vice versa. Also there are no foreign missionaries

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