Views on conversions

BJP president Amit Shah’s views (Dec.21) on his party being >against forced conversions is clearly a ploy to divert attention from the right wing’s moves to reconvert people through what it now terms “ghar vapsi”, or “homecoming.” When there are adequate provisions in the law to deal with conversions by means of force or inducement, his call for legislation on the subject is only meant to score brownie points for his party’s core Hindutva constituency. Is this a sign that the BJP acknowledges that its popularity is waning? Is this why the BJP is so eager to raise non-issues? With little to show for in governance, it comes as no surprise that Mr. Shah has chosen to travel the beaten track.

J. Anantha Padmanabhan, Tiruchi

Discriminating against people socially has happened for ages and that is exactly why the vulnerable want to “recast” their religion. Many of those who were learned in India were aware of this evil and each chose a different path to fight such discrimination. In India, people have the freedom to choose their religion. Social inequalities have also to be eliminated.

S. Sivakumar, Chennai

Humankind was originally a composite unit but it has been divided ever since, vertically and horizontally using religion and borders, and also segregated by compulsion or conviction (‘Sunday Anchor’ page, Dec.21). Religion and faith is one’s own personal matter and is not to be tinkered with by anyone, by force or allurement. Not all those who were said to have been converted to Islam during Muslim rule or those who converted to Christianity during British rule did this facing the sword, compulsion, instigation, or allurement. Muslims have been Muslims and Christians have been Christians for long and it is absurd for the BJP to try and undo what has been done already.

It is also a fact that those who have been converted to Hinduism continue to languish in poverty and face hunger, disease and unemployment.

The Supreme Court has observed that the right to propagate religion does not mean the right to convert, and this applies not only to Muslims and Christians but also to Hindus. Anyone is free to convert or reconvert from one religion to another, but if it is by force, threat or by temptation and bribe of money or even the promise of moon, it needs to be discouraged and condemned. An anti-conversion law will have no salutary effect.

M.Y. Shariff, Chennai

When there is a clear provision in the law that prohibits forced religious conversions while allowing one the freedom to make a change by choice, what is this ‘special’ law that Mr. Shah is challenging other political parties with? The BJP president is shrewdly trying to mislead the gullible and those who are sensitive, especially among Hindus, to believe that there is no law to look into the issue and that his party alone seeks to have one while others don’t. The media must stop giving his tactical statement a boost. The drama over conversions by right-wing elements is just a ploy to divert attention from corporate-oriented governance which will see the launch of senseless land acquisition, privatisation of resources and grave environmental damage.

Sham Sankar, Thiruvananthapuram

A free will is an essential prerequisite for any conversion. The rural masses and the poorest of the poor cannot always properly make a distinction between the deities in various religions and their philosophies and in no way have an independent bent of mind or a free will. Religious zealots have been exploiting their poverty, ignorance and illiteracy. In fact, there can be no conversions among the masses without financial or material inducements and gain. Conversions give rise to social and political tensions and social disharmony. Instead of seeking to do this, organisations should work to alleviate poverty among the masses.

V.S. Prasad, Hyderabad

While welcoming the possibility of legislation against forced religious conversions, I also request parliamentarians to consider whether the force applied is brutal or is through offers of bliss and blessings, from the affluent in the new faith. If it is through freebies (in cash or kind) as offered on the eve of elections, it is not forced. In India, this is how religious conversions have happened. Most of those who converted before Independence did it for gain and not because one god is superior to another. A change in name was seen as the passport to get closer to those in power.

A.S. Adikesavan, Chennai

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Printable version | Jan 23, 2021 5:30:48 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/letters/views-on-conversions/article6713255.ece

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