New Delhi, January 8, 2007. What is the nation in the world that has become supper power when the fundamental rights are taken away from its people?
Will the dream of United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Government led by Dr. Manamohan Singh â€“ Prime Minister of India to become Economic Super Power of the world without providing and protecting fundamental rights of its citizens to choose, change, profess, practice and propagate the faith and religion they like?
Enough accusation has given to Sangh Parivar and its political party "Bharatiya Janta Party" (BJP) for their very nature and attitude of Christian and Muslim hate campaign. But surprisingly, a Congress rules state â€“ Himachal Pradesh of Himalayan state silently passed "The Himachal Pradesh Freedom of Religion Bill 2006" during its four days' winter session on December 29, 2006.
Himachal Pradesh is latest state of India that has passed anti conversion bills to number eight states - Orissa in 1967, Madhya Pradesh in 1968 amended in 2006, Chhatisgarh in 1968 amended in 2006 (formerly part of Madhya Pradesh), Arunachal Pradesh in 1978, Tamil Nadu in 2002 latter repealed, Gujarat in 2003 amended in 2006 and Rajasthan in 2006, yet only Madhya Pradesh, Chhatisgarh and Orissa have framed rules.
Anti Conversion bill in its nature violate the very nature of Article 25 of Indian Constitution where it guarantees every Indian citizen to profess, practice, propagate and change the religion they like. It also violates the Article 18 of United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights where it guarantees, "The rights of everyone to the freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this rights includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance."
Congress government in Himachal Pradesh passed the bill where only 8,000 Christians out of 6 million population. Congress Government did not have even alarming factor that limits to pass anti conversion bill in the state.
The Himachal Pradesh Freedom of Religion Bill 2006 bans force conversion. Anyone found involved in force conversion will be imprisoned up to 2 years and/or fined Rs. 25,000 (US$ 565). Anyone wants to convert from one religion to another will required to give 30 days prior notice to district authorities. Violating this will be fined up to Rs. 1,000 (US$ 23).
In secular country like India, known for world's largest secular and democratic nation, does really one need to inform or get permit from Government to change ones faith and religion? If yes, then where is the Constitutional Rights that guarantees freedom to everyone to choose, profess, practice and propagate the religion they like? What about United Nations' Universal Declaration of which India is permanent member?
Chairman of UPA Government and President of Congress Party â€“ Mrs. Sonia Gandhi has written to Dr. John Dayal â€“ General Secretary of All India Christian Council dated July 27, 2006 that the Congress Party has opposed anti conversion bills strongly in the state assemblies and through demonstrations. The Himachal Pradesh Freedom of Religion Bill 2006 is very contradictory to the letter of Mrs. Sonia Gandhi wrote to All India Christian Council.
The anti conversion bills have been misused particularly by BJP rules states connived with Hindutva forces to harass religious minorities. Above this, Indian's low caste communities who are finally breaking up the caste captivities by leaving Hinduism and embracing other religions will be targeted to harass and keep them under captivity of caste system of Hinduism.
Therefore, UPA Government and all secular minded citizen of India must oppose dehumanize anti conversion bills and appeal to Shri Justice Vishnu Sadashiv Kokje â€“ Governor of Himachal Pradesh not sign the bill and protect the fundamental rights of Himachal Pradesh.