Modi government says right to convert people to another faith not a fundamental right
The union government of Hindu supremacist Prime Minister Narendra Modi told the Supreme Court on Monday that freedom of religion guaranteed in the Indian constitution does not include a fundamental right to convert people to other faiths.
The statement is in response to a petition by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay who sought directions to prevent forceful religious conversions.
The government said that the demands made in the petition would be taken up “in all seriousness” by the government.
According to the Indian constitution, all persons have the right to freely “profess, practice and propagate religion”. The Supreme Court had held that the word “propagate” does not refer to the right to convert a person, but a right to spread one’s religion by speaking about its tenets.
Anti-conversion laws already implemented in various states virtually criminalize voluntary conversion because they allow the police to claim, without substantiation and evidence, that such conversions were done through allurement.
The law is routinely misused to target Christians and Muslims who are being arrested on false charges of carrying out forced conversions.
Jury head at Indian Film Festival labels BJP-promoted ‘Kashmir Files’ as propaganda
The head of the jury of the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) has expressed his shock and disgust over the inclusion of the Indian film, The Kashmir Files, in the competition section of the event, describing it as “propaganda” and “vulgar” and “inappropriate for an artistic festival”.
The film has been at the center of a storm over the past year for its dishonest depiction of the exodus of Kashmiri Hindus, known as Pandits, from Kashmir in the early 1990s when an insurgency began against Indian rule.
Addressing the audience, Israeli filmmaker Nadav Lapid, appointed to head the jury convening on the best film, said The Kashmir Files left members of the jury shocked and disturbed by its inclusion.
Lapid’s comments are the latest in a stream of criticism leveled at a film that was both celebrated and endorsed by the Indian government and Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself.
Critics have argued that The Kashmir Files was used by the Indian government to revise Kashmiri history and demonize Muslims as part of the Hindu supremacist project, which aims to turn India into a Hindu state.
With the support of the government, the film has become one of the highest-grossing Indian films of 2022.
Domes over bus shelters in Karnataka removed after objection by BJP leader
After a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader in Karnataka threatened to raze down dome-shaped structures in bus shelters in Karnataka’s Mysuru city, officials have now removed the domes.
“If there is a big dome structure with two small domes on either side, it is considered a mosque. I have given three to four days’ deadline to the concerned engineers to demolish the structures,” Hindu extremist politician Pratap Simha had said at a public event.
The new picture of the bus stop has now come to the fore, in which there is only one dome, and the bus shelter has been painted red.
Delhi Court grills police for continuing restrictions in Tablighi Markaz premises
The Delhi High Court on Monday slammed police for restricting access to a famous mosque, Markaz Nizamuddin, since March 2020.
The court was dealing with a petition seeking the full reopening of the mosque which was closed in March 2020 — the first week of the nationwide lockdown due to COVID-19.
“You will hand over the keys,” the court directed police.
Thousands of Muslims from the missionary organization Tablighi Jamaat were in the Markaz to attend a congregation held from March 13 to 15 2020, more than a week before the government banned public meetings due to the virus.
Even though the Markaz management cooperated with police to evacuate the building, police booked members, including foreigners under the Epidemic Diseases Act.