BosNewsLife – In what is seen as a setback for Christians and other religious minorities demanding more rights, the government of India ‘s state of Orissa has suggested it will crackdown on conversions from one faith to another which it blames for violence that killed dozens of people, BosNewsLife established Saturday, September 10. Officials say so far this year 69 persons were killed and over 1,300 persons injured in religious violence across India this year alone, although analysts claim the number of persons killed or injured may actually show “a declining trend.”
In a policy paper monitored by the BosNewsLife Orissa Bureau, the governing United Progressive Alliance (UPA) cited “religious conversions” as “a major cause of concern,” because it was the “cause for disturbing the communal situation in the country.”
It said the Immanuel Bible Institute in the Indian state of Rajasthan was in February 2005 involved in conversions, which it warned could lead to violence. Evangelical Christians have denied they force people to change their religion and claim the Bible teaches that accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior is a free choice.
In addition the policy paper criticized Muslim and Hindu militants. “The [June] violence in [areas] such as Mangalore and Karnatak over alleged attempts to forcibly convert some Hindu girls by their Muslim employer, and the terrorist attack on the disputed Rama Janmabhhomi and Babri Mosque at Ayodhya, had the potential to destabilize the communal situation in the country,” it stressed.
The paper was to be discussed by India ‘s National Integration Council, a government body promoting integration for different religious and ethnic groups. Religious tensions have often run high in Hindu dominated Orissa, one of India ‘s poorest states, where Australian missionary Graham Steines and his two young sons were killed by an angry mob in January, 1999.