US embassy cable - 04CHENNAI1315

"NON-FUNCTIONAL" TAMIL NADU ANTI-CONVERSION ACT NOW "DEAD"

Identifier: 04CHENNAI1315
Wikileaks: View 04CHENNAI1315 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Consulate Chennai
Created: 2004-11-02 08:35:00
Classification: UNCLASSIFIED
Tags: PHUM PREL SOCI IN Indian Domestic Politics
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS CHENNAI 001315 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PHUM, PREL, SOCI, IN, Indian Domestic Politics 
SUBJECT: "NON-FUNCTIONAL" TAMIL NADU ANTI-CONVERSION ACT NOW 
"DEAD" 
 
REF: 03 Chennai 675 
 
1. (U) SUMMARY:  After defeat at the polls in May, Tamil 
Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa quickly reversed a number 
of initiatives that she had undertaken during the previous 
three years.  Among the reversals was the controversial 
Tamil Nadu Anti-Conversion Law banning forcible religious 
conversions.  The Anti-Conversion Law, which the government 
never enforced, is now history.  END SUMMARY. 
 
------------------------------------ 
The Anti-Conversion Law & Its Repeal 
------------------------------------ 
 
2. (U) In October 2002, the Government of Tamil Nadu (GoTN) 
proposed an ordinance banning religious conversions that are 
carried out by "force, allurement, or fraudulent means" 
(REFTEL).  The GoTN framed rules to implement the Anti- 
Conversion Law and passed it by ordinance in March 2003. 
Passage by ordinance does not require approval by the state 
legislature.  Following her defeat in the May, 2004 
parliamentary elections, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister 
Jayalalithaa announced the repeal of the Anti-Conversion Law 
along with a variety of other policy course changes ranging 
from reinstatement of free power for farmers to free bus 
passes for students.  Two senior GoTN officials recently 
confirmed to Pol Off the repeal of the Anti-Conversion Law, 
and the fact that no legislative approval is required to 
implement its repeal.  Mr. T. Pitchandi, GoTN Secretary for 
Public and Rehabilitation, pronounced the post-mortem, "The 
anti-conversion bill is dead". 
 
---------------------- 
A "Non-Functional" Law 
---------------------- 
 
3. (U) Mr. Ramagopalan, who convened the Hindu Munnani, an 
NGO espousing Hindu causes, described the Anti-Conversion 
Law as "non-functional."  He added, "The Hindu Munnani filed 
over 1,000 cases of conversions in 2003 but police stations 
did not take appropriate action to register them."  Vishwa 
Hindu Parishad (VHP) General Secretary Mr. R. Narayanswami 
said that even after passing the act in 2003 the government 
"did not make sincere efforts to identify conversions" that 
took place in Tamil Nadu.  He blamed this inaction on the 
state government's concern about not antagonizing minority 
voters in the run-up to the 2004 Lok Sabha elections. 
Christian authorities confirmed that conversions of Tamil 
Nadu citizens continued during 2003-2004 but were performed 
out of state. 
 
-------------------------- 
Repeal & Its Repercussions 
-------------------------- 
 
4. (U) COMMENT: All communities agreed that the reversal of 
the Anti-Conversion Law was a clear attempt by Chief 
Minister Jayalalithaa to regain popularity in the wake of 
the 2004 elections.  Following a huge electoral defeat, 
Jayalalithaa announced the reversal of many measures taken 
over the last three years including abandoning the 
controversial Anti-Conversion Law.  While she presumably 
hopes reversing the law will attract votes from some who 
voted against her party in May, Hindu groups suggest her 
party may lose some share of the majority Hindu vote.  Mr. 
Narayansami reminded Pol FSN that the, "Pro-Hindu Bharatiya 
Janata Party at the center dislodged the Hindutva 
(nationalism) plank and faced the consequences."  END 
COMMENT 
 
HAYNES 

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