Christians Angered by Conversion Law in Chhattisgarh

August 4, 2006

Source: BBC News

On August 4, 2006 BBC News reported, "Christian groups have reacted strongly to a new law passed by the Indian state of Chhattisgarh which requires official approval of any religious conversion. They said they were prepared to take the case to India's Supreme Court. The General Secretary of the Chhattisgarh Christian Forum, Arun Pannalal, said they hoped to persuade the governor to withhold assent. Mr Pannalal said the law contravened the fundamental rights of a citizen to freedom of thought and conscience. Speaking from Raipur, he told the BBC that Christian groups had employed a similar strategy in Rajasthan which led to the governor refusing to give his assent to a similar conversion bill. Mr Panalal said: 'We will also go to the highest court if necessary to challenge this draconian law.' Chhattisgarh's Christian population has remained less than 2% since the early 1960s. The bill has been amended to say that 'returning to one's forefather's religion or his original religion will not be treated as conversion'. Many see this as a means to allow the continuance of programmes promoted by right-wing Hindu organisations to reconvert Christians to Hinduism."