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Indian-American group expresses concern over HP bill
Sridhar Krishnaswami in Washington, DC | January 23, 2007 00:55 IST
An Indian-American Christian outfit in the United States has expressed concern over a bill passed by Himachal Pradesh, alleging that it was aimed at harassing Christian workers in the Congress-ruled state.
In a letter to Congress president Sonia Gandhi, the Federation of Indian American Christian Organisations sought help in stopping the bill passed by Himachal Pradesh in December 2006, saying the law will be used to harass and intimidate minorities.
Protesting the "so-called anti-conversion legislation", the letter, copies of which were sent to President A P J Abdul Kalam and Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil, said, "We cannot understand the basis of these anti-conversion bills/laws.
We wish to point out that past experience shows that these laws will be used to harass and intimidate minorities and unethically prosecute Christian institutions and their workers," Dr Joseph Nidiry, president of the federation, has said in the letter.
"Many legal experts attest that these laws would be hard to implement, but easy to be abused for harassing and intimidating minority institutions. We've already seen several instances of such abuse," he said.
"As you mentioned on several occasions, particularly in your letter to Dr John Dayal of the All India Christian Council on July 27, 2006, the Congress party was opposed to this divisive, hate-filled anti-religion strategy used by some bigoted members of certain political parties," he said.
"Everyone knew about your views on this issue. The development in Himachal therefore comes as a profound shock to us. We express our utmost disappointment and urge you to use your influence to ask the state to rescind the law or withdraw it altogether," he added.
The vice-president of the federation Abraham Mammen has also appealed to Sonia that she, as the president of the Indian National Congress and leader of the coalition partners in the state of Himachal Pradesh, "must undo the grievous damage being done to the sanctity of the Indian Constitution and to the freedom of faith of the Indian people."