Ranchi, Aug. 11: Opposition parties in Jharkhand have taken strong exception to a government advertisement, published in some vernacular dailies this morning, that quotes Mahatma Gandhi to allegedly influence public opinion before the state tables an anti-conversion bill in the Assembly tomorrow.
"This is blatant misuse of power. These people (BJP/RSS) had patronised the Mahatma's killers and now they are misquoting him. Has a single person so far been charged under the IPC sections for forcing religious conversions?" asked Congress legislature party leader Alamgir Alam.
Roughly translated, the Hindi advertisement quotes Gandhi, saying, "If missionaries feel that a human being can attain intellectual salvation only after converting to Christianity, why don't they begin with me or Mahadeo Desai (Gandhi's private secretary). Why do they want to convert poor, innocent and ignorant forest dwellers..."
Alam went on to add that the proposed bill was violation of fundamental rights. "The name of the draft is Jharkhand Freedom of Religion Act 2017, which restricts freedom of religious conversion by choice. The IPC already has provisions for nailing those who incite tension by forcing conversions," he maintained.
JMM general secretary Supriyo Bhattacharya said his party was watching the goings-on. Party MLA Simon Marandi told newspersons at the Assembly that if need be, he would approach the judiciary.
JVM MLA Prakash Ram claimed that the situation in Latehar had become tense after people saw the controversial advertisement.
Chief minister Das, who is scheduled to hold a public meeting in Saryu area of Latehar on Sunday under Sarkar Aapke Dwar campaign, is likely to face protests.