India: Freedom of Religion Bills against Christianity: Nagaland Chief Minister
19 May 2007
New Delhi, SVM News, May 18, 2007: Neiphiu Rio, Chief Minister of Nagaland State in India said that the so-called freedom of religion bills are basically directed against Christianity, having been used to prevent conversion to this religion, and to harass Christian missionaries, who have renderd so many philanthrpic services to the poor and the marginalised.
He was addressing the two-day international conference on `Empowerment of Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Minorities`, convened by Lok Sabha Deputy speaker Charanjit Singh Atwal on 17th of May. He said such legislations deprived the people of their right to freedom of religion guaranteed by the Constitution.
"This is a subject about which I feel strongly as a tribal and a Christian,"` said Mr Neiphiu Rio sharing a forum on empowerment of dalits and tribals with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and leader of the Opposition LK Advani.
He also registered his strong protest against what he called "grave injustice to dalit Christians" who because of religion and faith have been deprived of their right to reservation, which the dalit Hindus enjoy. He sought to underline that the socio-economic condition of these dalit Christians had not changed after their conversion to Christianity.
`"This Ministry implements tribal sub plans in those states which have pockets of tribal areas, but has no such plan for the fully tribal states of the North east. I consider this a great paradox. We had taken up this issue at various fora in the past, but with no results so far," he said in the conference.
Mr Neiphiu Rio also came down heavily on the policy and functioning of the Tribal Affairs Ministry.
The Chief Minister of Nagaland asked the conference to deliberate upon these issues and come out with its recommendations.