Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh has said that to intimidate and convert someone forcefully is a sin.
The defence minister was speaking at an event in Lucknow on Tuesday.
Singh said, “We believe that anyone who is following any religion has full freedom to do that, but trying to convert someone through fear or lure is the biggest sin.” He said that no matter how stringent the laws are, “the amount of success a movement can bring about, is unparalleled”.
He further said, “Many foreign powers are trying to break our country. They do not want a stable government in India, because they can see our future - the country is not only on its way to become a global superpower, but also a universal teacher/master.”
“The main thing about becoming a universal master,” said Singh, “is that you don’t feel scared. There are many superpowers in the world who instil fear in people, but India wants to be a teacher along with a superpower because you don’t feel scared when you are with your master.”
He also made it clear that mass conversions need to be checked across the country. Ten states have so far made laws to check forcible conversion.
The Uttar Pradesh Law Commission in November last year submitted a report to Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath proposing a new law to check forcible religious conversions in the state on the lines of Madhya Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Odisha, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand.
Moreover, the issue was at the centre during Jharkhand Assembly elections last year. The state government enacted a law in 2017 which provides for approval by a district official for conversion and prescribes a jail term of 3 years and a fine of Rs 50,000 for those found guilty of religious conversion through coercion or allurement. Higher punishment has been provided for converting a minor, a woman, a person belonging to the Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe communities.