The Conversion Agenda

"Freedom to convert" is counterproductive as a generalized doctrine. It fails to come to terms with the complex interrelationships between self and society that make the concept of individual choice meaningful. Hence, religious conversion undermines, and in extremes would dissolve, that individual autonomy and human freedom.

Monday, July 18, 2005

MP eyes amendments to Religious Freedom Act

Monday July 11 2005 00:00 IST

The Madhya Pradesh Government is considering amendments to the Religious Freedom Act following an official probe committee report that claimed a “sharp rise'' in religious conversion in tribal-dominated Jhabua district, official sources said.

The Government has taken note of successive District Collectors of Jhabua not sending information on conversion for the last 36 years. The Collectors posted in the district since 1969 would be questioned and necessary action taken, the sources added.

The Government's move came after an one-man committee of former Director General of Police Narendra Prasad, which probed allegations levelled by Hindu outfits about conversions and feeling of insecurity expressed by missionaries after the rape and murder of a girl at a missionary school on January 11, 2004, submitted its report on May 21 this year.

Quoting census figures that showed rise in population of Christians by about 80 per cent in Jhabua from 1991 to 2001, the report, which is yet to be made public, claimed that provisions of the Religious Freedom Act, 1968, were not being followed as the Collectors were not informed about conversions. As per the Act, the District Collector should maintain a register showing details of conversions and inform the government by 10th of every month, the sources said.

Prasad is understood to have claimed that conversion was the main reason for the problems between Hindus and Christians in Jhabua. Quoting a Central Government report, he said as many as 454 NGOs had received Rs 94 crore as foreign aid during 2000-01.

The former DGP, who held discussions with the locals, organisations and administrative officers claimed that except for some incidents, violence in Jhabua were in one way or the other related to conversion.

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