MUMBAI, India – Another state in India is preparing to pass an anti-conversion law, as minorities accuse the Hindu-nationalist government of discriminating against non-Hindus.
Jharkhand is in eastern India, and less than 5 percent of its population is Christian. However, over a quarter of the population is considered tribal, and Christians make up nearly 15 percent of the state’s tribal population.
According to the proposed law, which passed in the cabinet on August 1, anyone converting someone to a different religion through “force or allurement” could face three years in jail.
The law is likely to be debated in parliament beginning on August 8.
Jharkhand, like India’s national government, is ruled by the Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which has strong links to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a militant Hindu nationalist organization.
Since it took over the national government in 2014, religious minorities have complained about increased harassment.
The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom named India a “Tier 2” country of concern in its 2017 report.
“While Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke publicly about the importance of communal tolerance and religious freedom, members of the ruling party have ties to Hindu nationalist groups implicated in religious freedom violations, used religiously divisive language to inflame tensions, and called for additional laws that would restrict religious freedom,” the report reads. “These issues, combined with longstanding problems of police and judicial bias and inadequacies, have created a pervasive climate of impunity in which religious minorities feel increasingly insecure and have no recourse when religiously motivated crimes occur.”
Read more at Crux.