BJP-ruled Arunachal Pradesh plans to scrap anti-conversion law

GUWAHATI: The followers of indigenous faiths in the state have expressed apprehension over the Bharatiya Janata Party-ruled Arunachal Pradesh’s plans to repeal a four-decade-old Freedom of Religion Act or the Anti-Conversion Law which was passed in 1978.

“The Chief Minister is undermining the sentiments and emotions of the indigenous faith believers of the State by making such a statement,” Pai Dawe, president of NIFCS, said, reported The Hindu.

Chief Minister Pema Khandu on Thursday had said, “The law could undermine secularism and is probably targeted towards Christians,” reported Hindustan Times. “Any misuse of the law leading to torture of people could trigger large-scale violence in the state and could break Arunachal into pieces.”

Khandu made the remarks at a function organised organised by the Arunachal Pradesh Catholic Association in Itanagar on June 28.

The Arunachal Christian Forum welcomed Khandu’s statement and claimed that the government’s decision had nothing to do with politics, reported The New Indian Express. “This has nothing to do with politics,” said the forum’s leader Toko Teki.

“The Christians in Arunachal vote candidates by judging their performance. Had it not been so, [Minister of State for Home Affairs] Kiren Rijiju would not have won in Lok Sabha elections twice. His constituency has a large number of Christians.”

Teki said Khandu must have realised the futility of the law. “When the Hindus construct a temple, they don’t need any permission,” he claimed. “They can construct it anywhere. However, when the Christians plan to construct a church, the district authorities create a lot of hurdles. They instigate local non-Christians to create a problem. They do this despite the Christians being locals.”