Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Monday said that his government wants to curb evangelism in the State apart from aligning a proposed anti-polygamy law with Uttarakhand’s Uniform Civil Code (UCC).
On February 10, the Assam Cabinet approved the Assam Healing (Prevention of Evil) Practices Bill, 2024, to address the issue of fraudulent magical healing practices in the name of treatment. The Bill prescribes imprisonment and fines for engaging in illegal practices under the guise of treatment or magic healing.
“Magical healing is a dicey subject used to convert tribal people. We are going to pilot this Bill because we believe the religious status quo is very important for a proper balance. Let Muslims remain Muslims, Christians remain Christians, Hindus remain Hindus,” Mr. Sarma said.
“We want to curb evangelism in Assam and in this regard, the banning of healing is an important milestone,” he added.
The Chief Minister also said that the State government was pursuing legislation against polygamy, a move inspired from the UCC announced by the Uttarakhand government. “The UCC is only about banning polygamy and making it a civil offence. We are thinking of making polygamy a criminal offence. Our expert committee will work on aligning it (anti-polygamy) with the UCC,” he said.
Church-run schools cautioned
Meanwhile, a radical Hindu group named Kutumba Surakshya Parishad, translating into Family Safety Council, has asked church-run schools in Assam to remove all Christian symbols that it claimed are used subtly to influence students for conversion.
“Christian missionaries are converting schools and educational institutes into religious institutes. We will not allow it,” the group’s president, Satya Ranjan Borah said.
The group set a 15-day deadline for missionary schools from February 7 to remove the idols and photographs of Jesus and Mary apart from churches located within their compounds. It also asked priests, nuns, and brothers to stop wearing their religious attire within the school premises.
Denying the charges of conversion, Guwahati-based Archbishop John Moolachira said threats from radical groups have made it difficult to manage school and educational activities. He also said the school authorities have been asked to be cautious.
Christians comprise 3.74% of more than 3 crore people in Assam.