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Homechevron_rightIndiachevron_rightAkal Takht Jathedar...

Akal Takht Jathedar demands for anti-conversion law in Punjab

Akal Takht Jathedar demands for anti-conversion law in Punjab

The Akal Takht Jathedar, Giani Harpreet Singh, has called a gathering of the Sikh community at Anandpur Sahib on September 5 to discuss the issue of "forced conversions" into Christianity in Punjab.

While warning that the practice "will not be tolerated anymore", he said the Sikh community needs to "seriously think about demanding an anti-conversion law" in Punjab.

In an interview with Indian Express on Wednesday, he said that they have never demanded an anti-conversion law in Punjab but such a situation has been created now where they are pushed to make the demand.

He alleged that some so-called Christian missionaries have been forcibly converting Sikhs by adopting miracle cures and fraudulent practices. Such practices are being adopted although these go against Christianity.

He also claimed that Sikhs and Hindus of Punjab are being misled to convert to Christianity, and this is happening under the government's nose.

He added that although there are provisions in India's law to book people for superstitious practices in the name of religion, no government is ready to take action against them due to vote-bank politics.

He also accussed the administration of taking any action even after the Sikhs have filed a police complaint against these missionaries that are practicing forcible religious conversions by misleading the public.

He also remarked that Sikhs are not against any religion or its values, but against fraud being committed in the name of religion.

He claimed that poor Sikhs and Hindus from backward classes were being targeted by missionaries funded by "foreign forces". "Punjab is a border state. If such practices of forced religious conversions are taking place in a border state with the support of foreign forces, it is alarming. The practice of forced religious conversions will not be tolerated anymore," he said.

The Jathedar's statement came on a day when four masked men vandalized an idol on the premises of a church near Patti, in the Tarn Taran district. Earlier this week, police registered an FIR against 150 Sikhs for allegedly disturbing a Christian congregation in Amritsar on Sunday. The Jathedar has urged the police to quash the FIR and release a Nihang who was arrested.

Earlier, the National Commission for Minorities (NCM) had taken suo moto notice of Akal Takht Jathedar's allegations of religious conversions. It convened a meeting of representatives of Sikh and Christian communities on June 16 to discuss the issue.

In August last year, NCM joint secretary A Dhanalakshmi had sought a report from the then Punjab Chief Secretary Anirudh Tiwari on related issues, including the number of conversions in the last decade, whether these were forced or voluntary, and the number of churches constructed in this period.

A 12-member sub-committee formed by the SAD to introspect on its defeat in the Punjab Assembly polls had also noted the political implications of the "failure" of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) "in stopping religious conversions of Sikhs into other faiths."

On Monday, Manjit Singh Bhoma of the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) had demanded a ban on religious conversions in Punjab.

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