Thursday, April 10, 2014

Goa CM spreading "misinformation" on Fr Cedric Prakash's critique of Gujarat's anti-conversion law

Parrikar
By Our Representative
In a surprise move, Goa chief minister Manohar Parrikar has sharply criticized Gujarat-based Jesuit human rights activist Father Cedric Prakash, wondering why the latter should go to Goa and address people there, telling them about lack of religious freedom in Gujarat. Invited by the Catholic Association of Goa (CAG) and others about three weeks ago, Prakash has hit back saying that he is a “free citizen” therefore has “the right to travel anywhere in the country and speak or address any group.”
In a statement, issued from his office in Ahmedabad, Prakash has said, “The very fact that members of the BJP can even think of raising such questions portends ill for the future of the country. It clearly shows their fascist mindset. In the same breath, these very people have no guts to ask why Modi is seeking election from Varanasi or Advani from Gandhinagar, when both are not residents of these constituencies.”
Addressing an election rally on April 8, Parrikar directly referred to Prakash’s addresses at several meetings in Goa, organized by CAG. Parrikar said, while Prakash was talking about insecure minorities, the priest was “safe” in Ahmedabad for the last 12 years. Prakash in his rejoinder said, “The government of the day is meant to protect the life and property of every single citizen; the police and the other arms of law and order are meant to help the Government in the execution of this responsibility.”
Prakash added, “Unfortunately, the world knows that the Gujarat government abdicated this responsibility in 2002 which even prompted the then Prime Minister AB Vajpayee to tell Modi that he should practice raj dharma. Early in 1998-99, when the Sangh Parivar attacked the Christians of the Dang districts and other parts of South Gujarat, Vajpayee flew down to say that this should not happen to anyone, anywhere in India”.
Prakash underlined, “Being safe and secure in Gujarat is a matter of perception; thanks to the Central government; there are mechanisms to ensure my safety and security. But this doesn’t mean I’m not intimidated or harassed or threatened.”
Prakash particularly took strong exception to Parrikar’s effort to justify Gujarat’s anti-conversion law, passed in 2003. He particularly took exception to Parikkar’s reference to fact that the Congress first brought the anti-conversion law in Madhya Pradesh during the tenure of SC Shukla, hence there was no point in criticizing the Modi government for a “similar law” in Gujarat. The Jesuit human rights activist said, while he did not justify the Madhya Pradesh law, there was a fundamental difference.
Prakash said, Parikkar was “misinforming” people about Gujarat’s Freedom of Religion Act, 2003. Calling the law as a “draconian piece of legislation”, Prakash said, as against the Madhya Pradesh lw, which just make it obligatory for the person converted to just inform the officialdom about conversion, the Gujarat law “necessitates that any person (adult) wanting to change his or her religion to first seek the permission of the district collector”.
Not just this. In the Gujarat law, Prakash said, “the collector will first have to see if there is any force, or a fraud or an ‘allurement’ (which is material gratification or otherwise). So if the collector feels that “you becoming a better person” is allurement, he or she can deny you the permission”. He added, “As recently as February 9, 2014, the Gir Somnath SDM filed a complaint against a woman for converting to Islam ‘illegally’.”
Prakash further said, all this is over and above “any amounts of forms to be filled out when asking for permission.” In fact, “one also has to provide complete details of all those who will be present at say your ‘Baptismal ceremony’ while applying for permission.”
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Click HERE to read full statement of Fr Cedric Prakash

1 comment:

Jag Jivan said...

This is terrible! Imagine the chief minister of a state seeking to criticise a human rights activist. It means that whatever this human rights activist was saying was correct.