While the budget session of Lok Sabha has been the most productive session since 1952, the centre is already planning to break this record in the next session. It has been reported by Zee News that the NDA government is likely to bring a bill to counter the conversion rackets in the next session of Parliament.
The sources said that the government has already started preparations for an anti-conversion bill and discussions are underway to ensure that the bill prevents any kind of religious conversion.
Although certain states, including Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh have anti-conversion laws at the state level, this bill seeks to address the problem at national level.
The bill is likely to be based on the Jharkhand model. The newest state to enter the fray of Religious Freedom Bills, the state of Jharkhand state assembly had passed the anti-conversion bill brought by CM Raghubar Das led BJP government in the state.
The bill has provisions of imprisonment of three years and fine of Rs 50,000 or both, and four year- imprisonment and Rs 1 lakh fine, or both, if the person converted is a minor, woman or a member of Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe. It was a much needed bill which should have been implemented in the state since its inception considering the missionaries had already an extensive network in the state and had been luring the tribals and marginalized communities with promises of food and medical facilities.
The Jharkhand bill essentially aims at preventing forceful or allurement induced religious conversion, which will be non-bailable criminal offence.
To ensure that the individual is given the liberty of converting through voluntary means, the act paves way for the procedure. It says that a person converting willingly will have to inform the Deputy Commissioner about details such as time, place and the person who administers the conversion proceedings.
The bill is going to be the biggest needed reform in a person’s right to practice his religion. Statistics show that how Christian missionaries go about influencing and brain washing the poor, the Dalit and the tribal population in the country.
Moreover, the issue of love Jihad, wherein Hindu girls are forced to convert their religion in order to marry Muslim men is also a rising issue. The biggest such instance in the recent times had been the Hadiya case, wherein a young girl named Akhila, not knowing better had been misdirected to adopt a faith different from her own. She started practicing Islam and married a Shafin Jahan, through an objectionable marital website and changed her name to Hadiya.
The parliament had recently passed key bills like Jammu and Kashmir Re-organisation Bill, which bifurcates the state into two Union Territories and Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, which criminalises triple talaq.
Now, the bill aimed at protecting the religious freedom of the people will be a much needed reform. The issue of forceful or conversions is rising in the country, which becomes very difficult to prove otherwise. For the protection of religious freedom of an individual, this bill will pave way to deter any untoward activity.