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New law in Himachal Pradesh puts pastors under risk of being sentenced seven years

Thursday, September 12, 2019, 0:58 (IST)

After the new anti-conversion law, officially known as the Freedom of Religion Acts, was passed in Himachal Pradesh, the state pastors could be jailed for one to five years or seven years if involved in illegal conversion of Dalits, minors and women.

The law also requires people who wish to convert and their pastors to produce a letter declaring their intention to a district magistrate one month in advance.

In eight states, where the anti-conversion law is passed, Christians are often targeted and accused of forced conversions. Many Christian leaders in the country see the law being used an excuse to persecute and imprison Christians under fake charges.

Slamming the state government over the new law, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians Sajan K George said that anti-conversion laws are a tool to harass vulnerable Christians and discriminate against religious minorities. "They can plant seeds of sectarian suspicion among communities that have lived together in a peaceful manner and can be used against the weakest in society, in particular Dalits, women and children," George said.

Accusers misinterpreting the anti-conversion laws has led to many mob attacks where Christians and other minorities in the country are persecuted and are under continuous risk.