Advani calls for national debate on religious conversion

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Bhubaneswar, Sep 24 (UNI) Leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha L K Advani today called for a 'free and frank' democratic debate on religious conversion.

'' Campaign against conversion cannot and must not become a campaign against any community,'' Mr Advani said and hoped that the debate could build a national consensus against the proselytisation using methods of coercion or inducement or by villifying any faith.

The BJP leader who arrived here on a day's visit to the state for an aerial survey of the devastation caused by the floods in Mahanadi river system, told newspersons that there could be no justification for violence or vandalism in the name of religion.

On the demand of Hindu religious leaders that the conversion in the country be banned, the BJP leader said he was against any ban on conversion adding that the time has come for a democratic debate on the religious conversion.

Mr Advani said he had a discussion on the issue with several religious leaders and bishops and all of them have supported the idea for a national debate and inter-religious dialogue to arrive at a national consensus on conversion.

He said in Indonesia conversion has been banned, while in some other countries conversion has been treated as a crime and capital punishment awarded.

In India, the matter was discussed and debated in the constituent Assembly conversion but there has been no legal prohibition against the conversion although leaders like Mahatma Gandhi had strongly opposed it.

On the Centre's reported threat to use Article 355 of the constitution in Karnataka and Orissa for the attack on minorities, Mr Advani said the situation has been controlled by the two states.

The BJP leader, however, alleged that in Assam, the non-Assamese people were targetted and attacked and in Maharastra a single party was targetted and the state government seemed to patronise it.

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