Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Tuesday pushed for an anti-conversion law in the Parliament to put an end to “Ghar Vapasi” along with urging the state governments to take strict action against incidents hampering communal harmony.
The Home Minister’s statements assumes relevance as it comes amidst the controversy over attacks on minority institutions and inflammatory statements by the members of the Sangh Parivar compounded by the conversion campaigns by the Hindutva organizations. He was replying to the discussion on demand for grants under his Ministry in the Lok Sabha. The Minister said that no country in the world would allow conversions that pose a threat to its demographic profile adding that unlike other countries, the minorities in India didn’t want an anti-conversion law due to its true secular nature. This is the second time Singh had pushed for an anti-conversion law. When the Opposition pointed out the actions and the statements of Sangh Parivar that hurt the religious sentiments of the minorities, the Minister condemned such attacks; but chose not to reply on why no disciplinary actions were taken against the members. Singh’s statements plainly indicate that the Home Ministry sees such incidents with triviality.
The country’s Constitution guarantees freedom of religion where by every citizen has the right to practice or not practice the religion of his choice. It constitutes the basic fundamental rights of a citizen be it people belonging to majority or minority communities. The Minister’s statements repudiate this freedom of religion and are therefore precarious and the hence the attitude of the Sangh Parivar followers is imaginable. Singh also express anxiety over the threat posed by the conversion campaigns on the country’s population. In India, majority of the population follow Hinduism and the minorities belong to other religions. The Constitution ensures equal rights and duties for all the communities whether it is majority or minority and hence the question of belonging to a majority or minority community is irrelevant. Even if the ruling party decides to take away the freedom of the individual in choosing his religion, it would be impractical and impossible in a country like India.
The Home Ministry’s move hints towards a dangerous future. Such moves that are bound to vitiate the harmony of the country should be curbed. Despite the existence of laws, often people are coerced or lured into “Ghar Vapasi” using wealth. It wouldn’t benefit the society in any manner and would create fissures in social and communal relations and therefore should be abolished. Any move to hamper a citizen’s fundamental rights should be stopped.