City fumes at Gujarat's Bill on conversion


Thursday, September 21, 2006 00:32 IST

Shabana Ansari/ Shobha Viswanathan


The Gujarat Freedom of Religion (Amendment) Bill 2006 passed by the
Gujarat assembly on Tuesday has come in for criticism from people of
various faiths.

The act allows intra-religious conversion — Shia to Sunni, Protestant
to Catholic — but requires government permission for inter-religious
conversions. It also makes Buddhism and Jainism sub-sects of Hinduism,
so allows free conversions between the three. Mumbaikars react to
Narendra Modi's "draconian" law.

Abraham Mathai, general secretary of All India Christian Council :
"The bill goes against the spirit of the free and secular constitution
of our country which guarantees every individual a right to practice
and propagate his faith.

Asghar Ali Engineer, Islamic scholar: "The anti-conversion law and its
amendment are unnecessary and absurd in a democratic country. It's
nothing but total ignorance on the part of the Gujarat government to
club Jains and Buddhists with the Hindus.

Prakash Ambedkar, grandson of BR Ambedkar: Clubbing Buddhism and
Jainism with the Hindu religion is against the basic tenets of all
three religions. An act like this will only further the religious
divide in society.

Ramesh Dave, director of Anantacharya Indological Research Institute:
Jainism is not a part of Hinduism. Even though both Jainism and
Hinduism have some common beliefs and common roots, they are different

Nitin Raut, all-India general secretary, Bodh Gaya Mahavihar Mukti
Morcha: Buddhism was never a part of Hinduism.

The Gujarat anti-conversion Act is draconian in nature. A Buddhist
never considers himself as a Hindu and he never prays to any Hindu

Nikhil Wagle, editor, Mahanagar: "It is nothing but an RSS agenda to
raise communal passions and Narendra Modi's tactic to try and win the
next assembly elections.

Disillusioned Hindus like BR Ambedkar had renounced their religion to
embrace other faiths that did not treat them like second-class


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Published on: June 11, 2001
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