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RSS seeks Central law to ban religious conversion

Source: PTI
October 22, 2008 18:11 IST
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The Rashtriya Swayamsevak  Sangh on Wednesday accused the Biju Janata Dal-Bharatiya Janata Party government in Orissa of working under "pressure" from missionary elements and the Centre to protect real "killers" of Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader Laxmanananda Saraswati and demanded a central law to ban religious conversion.
"Failure of the state government becomes more pronounced in its inability to arrest the murderers of swamiji. The state government, under the influence of missionary elements and central government, is trying to protect real perpetrators by bringing in the Maoist angle," RSS joint general secretary Madan Das told reporters in Bhubhaneshwar.
Charging the state government and Centre with playing a "partisan and dubious" role in handling the situation after Saraswati's killing, Das alleged that "under pressure from pseudo-secularists and Christian lobbyists, they ( governement) unleashed a reign of terror and indulged in indiscriminate arrests of innocent people, slapping false case against them."
Demanding immediate arrest of culprits and conspirators behind Swami's killing, Das said, "repressive measures employed by police should be stopped and those arrested on flimsy and false charges must be released forthwith."
Terming illegal conversion as the root cause of unrest in Kandhamal, he said the violence that followed Saraswati's killing was due to "missionary-infused" socio-economic rivalry between the Kandh tribals and converted Panas.
A central legislation should be enacted to ban religious conversion, while right to land ownership of Kandh tribe must be protected by appropriate legislative and executive measures, the RSS leader said.
Das said harmonious relations between these communities in Kandhamal were disturbed with the advent of missionaries in the region as largescale conversion among the panas and efforts by the converts to usurp land and reservation benefits of 'kandhs' led to resentment among the tribals.
Alleging that a large number of churches have been illegally constructed on lands belonging to tribals, he claimed that hundreds of tribal places of worship called dharani penu (mother earth), the symbol of faith for kandhs, had been destroyed by overzealous elements.
Moreover, an amendment of 2002 to the presidential order on Scheduled Tribes, which included kui as a tribe incorrectly, should be withdrawn since kui is only a language spoken by the people of Kandhamal, he said. 

The RSS leader hit out at successive governments in Orissa accusing them of failing to implement the Orissa freedom of religion Act of 1967.
As a result, while the official records showed only two conversions, the christian population in Kandhamal district had increased six-fold between 1961 and 2001, he claimed.
Taking exception to statements of the Pope and leaders of some foreign governments on incidents in Orissa and other states, Das said these were undesirable interference in the internal affairs of our country.
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