Converts charged with violating Religion Act
THE KENDRAPARA administration has started preparing a prosecution report against 19 "converts" on charges of violating provisions of the Orissa Freedom of Religion Act in embracing Christianity.
According to Kendrapara collector K C Mohanty, who is finalising the report, the OFRA stipulates that any person wishing to change one's religion should intimate the district administration about his/her plans before embracing the new religion. But in the latest incident district authorities were not informed beforehand. Prima facie it is established that the OFRA has been violated and a preliminary inquiry also establishes the fact, Mohanty said. The final report underscoring the violations will be submitted in a few days.
During the preliminary inquiry, 14 of the converts, who were present in the village, reportedly maintained that they had embraced the new religion "voluntarily" without any coercion or allurement.
State DGP K D Bajpai told the Hindustan Times on Tuesday that investigation reports reveal the conversions were voluntary, but provisions of OFRA have not been met and law will surely takes its course.
All the converts, including five women, are adults and belong to the SC category. A senior official, however, pointed out that it would be difficult to prove the charges against the 19 persons for want of "authentic evidence".