The Himachal Pradesh Freedom of Religion (Amendment) Bill, 2022, was passed unanimously with a voice vote.
Mumbai: In line with a few other BJP-run states, the Himachal Pradesh Assembly passed a measure on Saturday banning “mass conversion” and increasing the maximum sentence for any forced conversion to 10 years in prison.
The move comes ahead of the assembly election in the hill state later this year.
The Himachal Pradesh Freedom of Religion (Amendment) Bill, 2022, was passed unanimously with a voice vote. The measure would extend the maximum sentence for forced conversions from seven years to a maximum of ten years and defines “mass conversion” as the conversion of two or more people at once.
The measure was introduced on Friday by the Jai Ram Thakur-led administration. The Himachal Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act, 2019, which was just enacted 18 months ago, has been strengthened by this legislation.
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15 months after it was approved by the state assembly, on December 21, 2020, the 2019 Act became effective. The 2006 statute, which had more lenient penalties, had been repealed by the 2019 version.
Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur stated that the 2019 Act did not contain a provision to prevent mass conversion and that “hence, a provision to this effect is being introduced” when introducing the bill in the assembly on Friday.
The BJP has been a vocal supporter of anti-conversion laws and many party-ruled states have introduced similar measures.
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