Bill in Himachal to check religious conversion

Shimla, Aug 29 (IANS) The BJP government in Himachal Pradesh on Thursday brought a bill in the Assembly to check forcibly religious conversion.

The Himachal Pradesh Freedom of Religion Bill, 2019, was introduced in the House by Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur.

It is listed for debate on the penultimate day of the monsoon session on Friday.

The Bill says that no person shall convert or attempt to convert, either directly or otherwise, any other person from one religion to another by use of misrepresentation, force, undue influence, coercion, inducement or by fraudulent means.

It says any marriage which was done for the sole purpose of conversion by a person of one religion with a person of another religion either by converting himself before or after marriage or by converting the other person before or after marriage may be declared null and void by the family court.

"It has been observed that there is a rise in conversions by fraudulent means and unless checked well in time, this practice may erode the confidence and mutual trust between the different ethnic and religious groups", said the Chief Minister.

In case forcible conversions are not prohibited, it would create public disorder, he said.

Thakur said the Himachal Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act, 2006, was enacted to provide for prohibition of conversion from one religion to another by use of force or inducement or by fraudulent means.

After the enactment, society has undergone many transitional changes, he said.

The punishments provided for in the Act are not as sufficient as to have a deterrent effect, Thakur said, adding adequate punishment is required to be provided on the analogy of some states such as Uttarakhand.

--IANS

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