UCANews : Indian Christians challenge bill against ‘mass conversion’

Himachal Pradesh group approaches high court to stop 'harassment caused by anti-conversion laws'

Workers of India’s Bharatiya Janata Party celebrate their party’s win in the general election, in New Delhi in May 2019. Most provinces ruled by the pro-Hindu party have an anti-conversion law in place. (Photo: Bijay Kumar Minj/UCA News)

A group of Christians in the northern Indian state of Himachal Pradesh has filed a petition in the state high court challenging a bill forbidding “mass conversions.”

The state ruled by the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) passed the Himachal Pradesh Freedom of Religion (Amendment) Bill, 2022, on Aug. 13.

The state already has an anti-conversion law in place but with the latest bill, it has sought to ban mass conversion, described as two or more people converting at the same time while also raising the punishment for a change of religion through force or allurement to a maximum of 10 years from seven years.

“A group of Christian leaders in state capital Shimla filed the petition and the high court has listed it for hearing on Aug. 17. We are hopeful of getting justice,” Reverend Sohan Lal, the Presbyter of Christ Church in Shimla, told UCA News on Aug 14.

Pastor Lal said the law was not required as one existed in the state since 2006 and another one was passed in 2019. The government’s contention that the old laws were insufficient to check conversion activities was not true, he added.

“The state is going to hold provincial elections by the end of this year so the ruling BJP is trying to show people that it is serious about curtailing so-called conversion in the state,” he added.

This story was originally published in ucanews.com . Read the full story here