Source: Khaleej Times
Wire Service: AP
On April 8, 2006 the Associated Press reported, "An Indian state has banned proselytizing using force or inducement, a law critics fear will be used to target Christians and other minorities, newspapers reported on Saturday. The offense can be punished with up to five years in prison and a fine of rupees 50,000 (US$1,136, euro 946) under the new legislation passed by the Hindu nationalist government of the western Indian state of Rajasthan, The Asian Age newspaper said. Similar laws have been used to harass, imprison or run out Christian missionaries in five other Indian states, all ruled by the Bharatiya Janata Party, or its allies. Hard-line Hindu groups accuse missionaries from other religions of luring poor people away from Hinduism - India’s largest faith - through offers of money, education, health care or through coercion. In these states, Hindu extremists have in the past attacked Christian churches because of allegations of forced conversions. Churches have denied that anyone can be coerced or bribed to change his or her personal religious beliefs."