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ICC Note:

For years, Hindu radicals in India have used the country’s anti-forced conversion laws to harass and persecute religious minorities. Christian evangelists and pastors are especially targeted using these abused laws. Often, Hindu radicals will falsely accused Christians of forcefully converting Hindus, which they also use to justify brutal assaults on Christians and their places of worship. Sadly, local authorities often support these Hindu radicals and book Christians on little to no evidence. 

04/14/2017 India (Scroll) – The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, proclaimed by the United Nations in 1948, is a landmark document. It accorded all humans the same rights – the first time in history that this had ever happened.

Or well, that was the idea at least. In the real world, it’s a bit different. Take Article 18 of the charter that describes the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. It explicitly states, “this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief” – a tenet India does not subscribe to.

In fact, far from recognizing a right to convert, the Indian state and powerful Hindutva groups use the bogey of so-called forced conversions to harass minorities (mainly Christians in this case). On Sunday, for example, the Madhya Pradesh police arrested three Christians for allegedly trying to convert Hindus. Last Friday, the Hindu Yuva Vahini, a vigilante group headed by Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath, raided a church, accusing members of converting people. Astonishingly, the police promised an investigation not against the Hindu Yuva Vahini, for harassing a church, but against the church itself, reported the Hindustan Times.

Even while Christian congregations are attacked by raising the bogey of conversion, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh boasts openly about conversion of Christians to Hinduism. In Jharkhand, the RSS aims to make whole blocks “Christianity free” and recently converted 53 families to Hinduism.

This religious discrimination isn’t a one-off event. It is, in fact, enshrined in law. Five states across the Indian Union ban conversion in all but name. In Orissa, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh the process of conversion is regulated to such a Kafkaesque degree that it is impossible to carry out – which was precisely the motive of the motive of the framers of the law.

In September, 2014, for example, the Madhya Pradesh police had arrested four Dalits for converting to Islam. The four men had decided to change their religion driven by the caste system – a move perfectly in consonance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and, indeed, common sense. Yet, they broke the law by not taking the permission of the Madhya Pradesh state government.

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