Ruckus as anti-conversion Bill tabled in Haryana Assembly

Speaker suspends Congress MLA for tearing a copy of the Bill

March 04, 2022 10:41 pm | Updated 10:41 pm IST - CHANDIGARH

Chief Minister Manohar Lal on the first day of budget session of the Haryana Assembly in Chandigarh.

Chief Minister Manohar Lal on the first day of budget session of the Haryana Assembly in Chandigarh. | Photo Credit: PTI

The BJP-led government in Haryana introduced its new anti-conversion Bill in the Assembly on Friday, leading to noisy scenes as the Opposition MLAs protested against its tabling.

Home Minister Anil Vij introduced the Haryana Prevention of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Bill, 2022, which prohibits conversion by allurement, coercion or fraudulent means etc. during the ongoing budget session. Similar Bills have been passed in the past in BJP-ruled States such as Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh.

As heated arguments ensued between the Treasury and Opposition benches, Congress MLA Raghuvir Singh Kadian, alleging that the intent of the Bill was not clean, tore a copy of it.

While Mr. Vij hit back saying the Congress believes in communalism and partitioned India on the basis of religion, Chief Minister Manohar Lal waded into the debate and said there’s no mention of any religion in the Bill and it pertains to only forcible conversions. He said it does not stop anyone who is willingly converting provided that the person submits an application for wilful conversion to the District Magistrate.

Speaker Gian Chand Gupta suspended Mr. Kadian for the remainder of the session after he refused to tender an apology, prompting Congress MLAs to staged a walkout in protest against his suspension.

CM’s defence

Elaborating on the Bill, Mr. Lal said any religious priest or any person intending to organise a conversion shall give prior notice to the District Magistrate about the venue. A copy of this notice shall be pasted on the notice board outside the District Magistrate’s office.

“If any person has an objection to this conversion, then they can file their objection in writing within 30 days. The District Magistrate shall investigate and decide whether the conversion is intended to be in contravention of Section 3. If the District Magistrate comes to the conclusion that the intended conversion is in contravention of Section 3, then he shall decline the intended conversion by passing a reasoned order. An appeal can be made against the order passed by the District Magistrate before the Divisional Commissioner within 30 days,” he said.

The Chief Minister said many cases have surfaced in the State of people being converted through various allurements. “Some of them were even forcibly converted. There have also been cases where girls of other religions were married and forced to convert. Such incidents not only violate our religious freedom but also hurt the socio-religious fabric of society. To stop such incidents, The Haryana Prevention of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Bill, 2022 has been introduced,” he said.

He said Section 3 of the Bill makes it clear that no person shall convert or attempt to convert, either directly or otherwise, any other person from one religion to another by misrepresentation, use of force, threat, undue influence, coercion, allurement or by fraudulent means including the use of digital mode, or by marriage or for marriage.

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