N Sathiya Moorthy in Chennai
Christian and Muslim organisations across Tamil Nadu, led by the Church, staged demonstrations and observed a daylong fast to protest against the anti-conversion ordinance promulgated by the Jayalalithaa government a fortnight ago.
The demonstration assumed a political tint as various parties opposed to the ruling All-India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam extended their support to the minority organisations.
Some of the speakers, including Reverend Esra Sargunam and Tamil Nadu Muslim Munnetra Kazhagam leader Hyder Ali, threatened the government with dire consequences if the ordinance was not withdrawn.
Sargunam, who is closely identified with DMK president M Karunanidhi, and Hyder Ali, among others, said Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa was acting at the behest of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh-Vishwa Hindu Parishad combine.
Jayalalithaa has invited minority community representatives, who are planning a massive rally in Chennai on October 24, which coincides with the beginning of the winter session of the state assembly, for talks.
There are indications that the government may be working on a mid-way course to address 'genuine concerns' about certain clauses in the ordinance without actually withdrawing it. This will then be presented in the assembly in the form of a bill to get it passed.
Referring to Jayalalithaa's reported statement that dalits in the state were being converted for as little as Rs 2,000, Rev Sargunam said this was an irresponsible statement and the chief minister would have 24 hours to prove it or face the consequences.
Meanwhile, in a statement greeting a conference of Hindu organisations in Madurai on Sunday in support of the anti-conversion law, Bharatiya Janata Party secretary L Ganesan said the law was part of the BJP's policy.
Referring to the reported threat of Christian organisations to close down educational institutions being run by them, he said it only betrayed their guilt.
Ganesan referred to the late AIADMK founder M G Ramachandran's autobiographical serial in a Tamil magazine in the Seventies, where he had condemned conversions. "Jayalalithaa, who claims to be his political inheritor, is thus doing the right thing by promulgating the anti-conversion law," he said.
Back to top
Tell us what you think of this report