The government of Haryana on Friday introduced the anti-conversion bill in the assembly, causing an uproar as the opposition raised strong objections to the bill citing religious discrimination.
The Prevention of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Bill, 2022 was introduced during the budget session today following which an uproar was triggered. Home Home minister Anil Vij introduced the Haryana bill on the third day of the budget session.
Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, while speaking on the bill, said it is not aimed at discriminating against any religion and talks only about forcible conversions.
Khattar said, "There is no mention of any religion in the bill. The purpose is to stop forcible conversions. No person shall be allowed to use coercion, threat or marriage as a means to convert people."
Speaker Gian Chand Gupta also suspended Congress MLA Raghuvir Singh Kadian for the remaining part of the budget session for tearing a copy of the bill in the House. The Congress members staged a walkout in protest against Kadian's suspension.
Congress members then rose from their seats, objecting to some remark by Khattar. Kadian tore the copy of the bill, inviting the wrath of the Speaker.
When Kadian said it was a simple paper, Gupta insisted that the bill was a legal document and asked the Congress member to express regret over his act, saying he will not allow such behaviour in the House.
The bill prohibits religious conversions which are effected through misrepresentation, force, undue influence, coercion, allurement or by any fraudulent means or by marriage, making it an offence. The bill provides for declaring marriages, which were done solely for the purpose of conversion from one religion to another religion, null and void.
Meanwhile, Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) welcomed the introduction of a bill saying CM Manohar Lal Khattar has shown his determination towards curbing such activities in the state.
In a statement, the saffron outfit's joint general secretary Surendra Jain said the bill, if passed, will put a curb on "illegal conversions, love jihad and those who hatch anti-national conspiracies through such activities". It will also create an atmosphere of "mutual harmony and peace" in Haryana, and take the state on the path of development "at a fast pace", he said.
(with agency inputs)