Minorities in India: Rajnath Singh calls for anti-conversion law

Rajnath-SinghAmid a brewing controversy over the targeting of minorities by fringe groups, India’s Home Minister Rajnath Singh has questioned conversions by Christian charities, and pitched for an anti-conversion law.

Addressing a conference of state minority commissions which was attended by representative of various minority communities, he said, “There are sometimes rumours and controversies about ‘Ghar Wapsi (home coming)’ and conversions. Why should there be any conversion at all?”

Singh was alluding to attempts by some fringe Hindu organisations to re-convert Muslims and Christians back to the fold of Hinduism, which have sparked charges of the anti-minority agenda pursued by the ruling dispensation.

Rajnath Singh’s remarks on conversions came against the backdrop of a growing impression that some Christian organisations are using charities as a front to covert poor people to Christianity. “Why can’t we serve the people without doing conversion? Those who want to serve the people should do so without engaged with conversion. Can’t we find a solution to the problem?” he said.

“The issue was even raised in Parliament. Many people said the government should do something about it. But I think society also has a role. Society too has responsibility. Can’t we live without respecting each other’s faith? What is the necessity of conversion? Can’t a religion survive without involving in conversion,” Mr Singh said.

Hinduism is a non-proselytising religion whereas both Christianity and Islam believe in proselytising – this fundamental difference tends to create occasional friction in the multi-religious, multi-cultural mosaic of India.

“While preaching our respective religion, can’t we live with brotherhood? Why do we have to engage in conversion? What is the need? Conversion cannot be anyone’s goal. Let all people preach respective religion and live peacefully. Many people may not agree with what I am saying. You may have a different opinion and I respect that,” the Home Minister said.

“In other countries it is the minorities which ask for anti-conversion law. Here, we are only saying that there should be an anti-conversion law. There should be a debate over it. We must think on bringing anti-conversion law. I humbly request all of you to think over it,” Mr Singh said.

The home minister, however, made a vigorous case for the protection and welfare of minorities. Mr Singh said that he would request the state governments to take strongest possible action for the protection of minorities. “I want to tell the whole country, even through law and order is a state subject, I will do everything for the protection of minority. I will go to any extent for this. I say this in the name of god,” he added.

Alluding to the sense of insecurity that prevailed among minorities during the rule of Congress-led UPA, Mr Singh said the Modi government is the best bet for the country’s minorities. “If anyone can end the sense of insecurity among the minorities, it is the Narendra Modi-led NDA government. We have to turn the sense of insecurity into a sense of security. For a government or a Home Minister, ending insecurity of minorities is the biggest challenge.”

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