Modi hiding behind smokescreen, says Father Prakash

March 11th, 2008 - 12:20 am ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Narendra Modi

Ahmedabad, March 10 (IANS) “It is a smokescreen,” was how Father Cedric Prakash, director of non-governmental organisation Prashant and critic of Chief Minister Narendra Modi, described the Gujarat government’s decision to withdraw the anti-conversion bill. Talking to IANS here Monday, Father Prakash said the Modi government in a typical fashion has resorted to smokescreen by proclaiming that it has withdrawn the Gujarat Freedom of Religion (amendment) Bill, 2006.

The fact that such a bill was considered is indicative of the state government’s unconstitutional behaviour and its insensitivity towards various religious sections of India, said Prakash.

He also expressed thanks to Governor Nawal Kishore Sharma who returned the bill to the assembly, which was passed in September 2006.

However, the original Gujarat Freedom of Religion Act 2003 still remains, he pointed out.

Almost five years after its promulgation, the government has not been able to cite a single instance of “forced conversion” in the state. Moreover, it has not yet framed the by-laws or rules necessary for the implementation of this act, he said.

This law shows the government’s total disregard to Article 25 of the constitution and Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. If this government is serious about respecting the rights of its citizens, it should first withdraw the act of 2003 in its entirety immediately, Prakash said.

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