Gujarat Bill Aims to Stop Religious Conversions

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BANGALORE, India, FEB. 26, 2003 ( The government in the Indian state of Gujarat is promoting a new law to stop the practice of religious conversion, a move that some consider is aimed at minorities.

On Tuesday, local government leader Sunder Singh Bhandari announced the Freedom of Religion Bill, to be reviewed by the state assembly. The definitive form of the measure will be decided at a government meeting next week.

The bill should not differ much from measures that already ban forced conversions in other Indian states, the Misna missionary agency reported.

Last year a similar ordinance presented by the southern state of Tamil Nadu unleashed the protest of various civil and political groups, in addition to that of the Catholic Church.

"In fact, there are concerns that such measures are utilized to persecute religious minorities present in the nation," Misna said.