ITANAGAR, July 13 - Faced with stiff opposition from various quarters, especially the State’s indigenous faith bodies, Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu has reiterated that the State Government would consider the views and suggestions of every stakeholder through wider consultations with regard to the Arunachal Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act, 1978.
Addressing a church function at Banderdewa on June 28 last, Khandu had announced that the Arunachal Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act or the anti-conversion law, which was enacted four decades ago, would be brought before the next Assembly Session for repeal.
He had also stated that the law could undermine secularism and was probably targeted towards Christians. He assured that it would be brought before the next Assembly session “as it could be misused in future by irresponsible officials”.
However, a few days later, Khandu tweeted that “wider consultations will be done in the spirit of democratic traditions” before taking the final decision in this regard.
“Upholding the democratic and secular ethos, the matter is neither about politics of vote bank nor intended to hurt any community or any religion. In the spirit of democratic traditions wider consultations will be done on the matter,” he wrote in the microblogging site.
In the first round of consultations he had with the Indigenous Faith and Cultural Society of Arunachal Pradesh today, the Chief Minister reiterated that the State Government would stick to its secular principles and, therefore, consult with every stakeholder before taking any decision on the Act.
“This is a government of the people and every decision taken will be in consultation with the people,” he maintained.
The Chief Minister also observed that the Act needs to be studied in detail to understand its implications which, at the outset, does not discriminate against any religion but actually safeguards the secular spirit of the Indian Constitution.