6th Jul 2018 10:07:PM Editorials
Eastern Sentinel Arunachal News

The war of words between the Congress and BJP and other indigenous organizations is now set to breach the high decibel levels ever since Chief Minister Pema Khandu announced that his government will repeal the Arunachal Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act 1978, in short the Anti-conversion Law. This may even spill over onto the streets. It may be noted that Arunachal was the third state after Odisha and Madhya Pradesh to enact such a law. 
The 1978 law says that “no person shall convert or attempt to convert, either directly or otherwise, any person from one religious faith by the use of force or by inducement or by any fraudulent means nor shall any persons abet any such conversion.”
It further says that “whoever converts any person from one religious faith to any other religious faith either by performing himself the ceremony necessary for such conversion as a religious priest or by taking part directly or indirectly in such ceremony shall, within such period after the ceremony as may be prescribed, send an intimation to the Deputy Commissioner of the District to which the person converted belongs, of the fact of such conversion in such form as may be prescribed.”
It remains to be seen how many such cases were reported to the DCs.
What is pertinent to note here is that the law was largely aimed at stopping conversions by the Christian missionaries. But the fact of the matter is that while Arunachal Pradesh had no Christians in the year India became a Republic, today Christians are the majority population in the state.
By 2001, i.e 23 years after the enactment of the Anti-conversion Law or the Arunachal Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act , Christians were the third largest religious group accounting for 18.7% of the state’s population, behind Hindus (34.6%) and ‘others’, mostly Donyi-Polo (30.7%).
By 2011 according to the Census data, Christianity is now the state’s largest religion. Christians account for 30.26% of the state’s 1.3 million people. Hindus were pushed to the second spot at 29.04% while indigenous faiths barring Buddhism have seen steady erosion in their numbers. This is because the legislation, unlike in other states, has been ineffective because its rules have not been framed.
Therefore the announcement to repeal the law as expected has opened a mixed bag of emotions—while the Christian community has welcomed the move, the indigenous faith believers are feeling let-down as they are feeling the pressure of keeping their age-old practices and numbers alive.

Kenter Joya Riba

(Managing Editor)
      She is a graduate in Science with post graduation in Sociology from University of Pune. She has been in the media industry for nearly a decade. Before turning to print business, she has been associated with radio and television.
Email: kenterjoyaz@easternsentinel.in / editoreasternsentinel@gmail.com
Phone: 0360-2212313

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