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Arjun Singh's help sought to stop Freedom of Religion Bill

Special Correspondent

Minority leaders urge the Union Minister to use his office to impress upon the Rajasthan Governor not to sign the Bill.

NEW DELHI: Representatives of various minority communities from Rajasthan on Thursday sought to rope in Union Human Resource Development (HRD) Minister Arjun Singh in their ongoing efforts to stop the enactment of the Rajasthan Freedom of Religion Bill, 2006. They met the Minister at his residence and urged him to use his office to impress upon the Governor not to sign the Bill.

Empathising with the stance taken by the different religious leaders, Mr. Singh is understood to have told the delegation that they should meet Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje and convey their reservations to her. According to the general secretary of the Rajasthan Pradesh Congress Committee, Jai Singh Rathore -- who led the delegation -- the Minister said he would himself take up the matter with the Chief Minister when he visits the State later this month.

The religious leaders -- who met the Minister under the banner of Sadbhav Manch Rajasthan -- also warned him of the possibility of Rajasthan going the Gujarat way with regard to communalisation of the State's polity and society. Prior to this meeting with the HRD Minister, Christian leaders had met the Governor twice after the passage of the Bill by the State Legislature. Their fear is that the Bill -- essentially an anti-conversion law -- would be misused by the Bharatiya Janata Party Government in the State.

The delegation also apprised the Minister of the growing incidence of violence against minorities in the State; particularly Christian institutions and missionaries.

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