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Rajnath Singh: India’s BJP eyes anti-conversion law

ICC Note: If the following story comes to pass, India will no longer have “safe havens” of states where anti-conversion and anti-Christian laws do not apply.

By Joe Leahy and Varun Sood in Raipur
11/13/08 India (Financial Times) – India’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata party, the main opposition, is considering legislating against mass religious conversions if it wins the forthcoming general election.

The initiative, which could lead to friction with the US, follows a growing number of attacks on Christians in recent months in several states amid allegations from rightwing Hindu groups that missionaries are converting the poor by enticing them with handouts or through force.

“The missionaries are free to work in any part of the country, but mass conversion by force or handouts is not acceptable,” said Rajnath Singh, the BJP’s president, in an interview with the FT in Raipur, Chhattisgarh state, eastern India.

Mr Singh, the party’s most senior leader alongside L.K. Advani, its candidate for prime minister, was speaking ahead of six months of state electoral contests between coalitions led by the BJP and the Congress party, culminating in a general election next year.

Up to five states have passed anti-conversion laws. But until now, only Hindu extremist wings of the BJP, such as the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, have demanded a law from central government.

Mr Singh’s call may be an attempt to try to grab the initiative ahead of the general election… [Go To Full Story]