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Systematic conversions on since UPA took over : Advani

By Staff
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Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh, Apr 17: Alleging that there has been ''systematic religious conversions'' in the country ever since the UPA government took over at the Centre, BJP senior leader L K Advani today said such proselytisation would pose a grave threat to the Hindu society.

Talking to newspersons on the completion of the first phase of his 35-day Bharat Suraksha Yatra in this temple town, Mr Advani said he was constrained to speak about systematic religious conversions taking place in the country especially in Andhra Pradesh with a ''missionary zeal''.

''It is bad that the religious conversions were taking place through inducements and coercive pressure and these activities needed greater caution when such conversions were facilitated by foreign-funded organisations ostensibly under the garb of social service for the poor,'' he said.

Mr Advani said he had heard of evangelical organisations engaging in ''anti-Hindu propaganda'' not sparing even the holy city of Tirupati, but it was distressing to note that the state Congress government headed by Y S Rajasekhara Reddy had turned a blind eye to it.

The leader of Opposition in the Lower House alleged the state government was toying with the idea of selling various lands belonging to Hindu temples and in many places it had colluded with unscrupulous encroachers on these lands.

''This is reprehensible,'' he said.

He said that BJP recognised and accepted India's multifaith character and it respected every citizen's freedom of faith.

''However, this freedom could not be allowed to become a license for sustained foreign-funded campaign for proselytisation, which had gained momentum in many states,'' he added.

SCs, STs and the poor belonging to OBCs seem to be the target of this campaign.

''It was astounding that the Hindu protests were dubbed as communal and anti-secular and in Andhra Pradesh they were persecuted as if they had committed a grave crime,'' Mr Advani said.

The BJP, he said would not tolerate such perverse secularism and would raise the voice in favour of a national as well state level legislation prohibiting religious conversions through inducements as well as coercion.

Quoting Mahatma Gandhi's views on religious conversions, from the Harijan and Young India, he said he would urge everyone to pay heed to what the Father of the Nation had said on the issue of conversions.

Mr Advani said the well-meaning Christian organisations and their leaders should emulate Archbishop S Arulappa, the widely respected Hyderabad-based religious personality, who died in February last year.

He said the late Archbishop had once told him ''by birth I am Indian, by culture a Hindu and by faith a Christian.'' ''This spirit of tolerance, goodness and pride in India's composite culture is truly worth emulating by all,'' he observed.

Mr Advani has completed the first phase of his Yatra and he will be taking a break to campaign in Tamil Nadu and Kerala for the next two days. He started campaigning for the party in Tamil Nadu.

UNI

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