On March 26, Gujarat’s state assembly passed a bill banning religious conversion through use of force or bribery.
This expected move followed a similar law adopted in Tamil Nadu last October. While this will once again lead to criticism of India by advocates of religious freedom around the world and to protests from minority religions and human rights organizations in India itself, it is unlikely that the trend toward measures against conversion will decrease in the near future.
As RW’s contributing editor could observe during a recent trip to the Indian subcontinent, Hindu activists intend to increase these laws. This was recently confirmed by the general secretary of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Gujarat, who predicted similar laws would be passed across the country, according to CNS News (March 26).
The debate about conversions is not new in India, but it has become more acute in recent years. Religious minorities are afraid that, despite the fact that only forced conversions are targeted, such legal measures could be used as a dissuasive tool against any kind of conversion, especially in Gujarat, where serious communal violence took place last year.
— By Jean-Francois Mayer