[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Languages
Last Updated: Wednesday, 23 February, 2005, 13:32 GMT
State to bar religious conversion
By Narayan Bareth
BBC News, Jaipur

VHP meeting
The hardline Vishwa Hindu Parishad welcomed the move
The government in India's western state of Rajasthan says it is to introduce a law banning religious conversion.

It follows tension between Hindus and a Christian mission holding its annual convention in Kota, 250km (155 miles) from the state capital, Jaipur.

The state home minister warned foreign delegates their tourist visas did not allow them to attend such a function.

The mission's chief, MA Thomas, said Hindu activists had humiliated and beaten up some of the delegates.

Checkpoints

Hindu activists from groups such as the Bajrang Dal and the World Hindu Council, or Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), say the Kota convention, which began on Wednesday, is being used for conversion to Christianity.

The activists have set up checkpoints on roads leading to the mission, stopping delegates who are coming from all over India and abroad.

We will not allow anyone to convert poor and illiterate people
Gulab Chand Kataria,
Rajasthan home minister

The state government, run by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, said there were more than 60 foreigners at the Kota mission, mainly from the US, who had come on tourist visas and had no right to participate in such functions.

On Wednesday, police used force to disperse Hindu activists who were trying to enter the mission premises.

Six people, including three policemen, were injured in the incident.

State home minister, Gulab Chand Kataria, said the Christian mission had not divulged its programme to the administration.

"We will not allow anyone to convert poor and illiterate people," he said.

The Vishwa Hindu Parishad welcomed the state government's move.

But the opposition Congress Party said the government was inciting its members to oppose the mission's work

The state has a very small Christian population of 0.11%.

State governments in India do have the power to introduce anti-conversion laws.

The southern state of Tamil Nadu had similar legislation but it was scrapped amid political controversy and opposition from religious minorities.



SEE ALSO:
Church anger over Bollywood film
21 Feb 05 |  South Asia
Hindus protest at evangelist show
21 Jan 05 |  South Asia
Hardline Hindus' cricket protest
18 Dec 03 |  South Asia
Hindu group demands WTO pullout
31 Jul 03 |  Business
Crowd chaos at faith healer show
04 Nov 02 |  England


RELATED INTERNET LINKS:
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific