Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu on Thursday announced that the Arunachal Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act or the Anti-Conversion Law, which was passed by the State Assembly in 1978, would be revealed.
“The anti-conversion law could undermine secularism and is probably targeted towards Christians,” said Khandu while assuring that it will be brought before the next Assembly session for its repeal as it could be misused in future by irresponsible officials.
“Any misuse of the law leading to torture of people could trigger large-scale violence in the state and could break Arunachal into pieces,” the Chief Minister said while addressing a large gathering during a function titled ‘Prem Milan’, organized by the Arunachal Pradesh Catholic Association to pay tribute to Reverend Brother Prem Bhai, a Christian missionary, on his 10th death anniversary at Holy Trinity Catholic Church at Banderdewa near here.
Earlier, the CM laid a wreath on the casket of late Prem Bhai inside the church. He later stood solemnly for few seconds with folded hands praying for peace of the departed soul.
In his speech, the CM said, “Prem Bhai today commands respect not only in Catholic community but across all denominations of Christian society and also among different faiths.”
He called Prem Bhai as ‘Saint’, who brought tremendous changes in Nyishi society and contributed to development of Arunachal with his 25 years of humanitarian service.
Brother Prem Bhai, a Benedictine missionary, who endured repeated arrest, imprisonment, beatings and wore disguises to evangelize in the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, died on June 28, 2008 in Colombo, Sri Lanka after suffering a heart attack the previous day.
Brother Prem executed missionary work in the state for almost 25 years despite Government laws that subjected those caught to fines of 10,000 rupees and two years imprisonment.
The work of Brother Prem and other missionaries bore such fruit that Christians now make up more than half of the population in Arunachal Pradesh.
Acknowledging the contributions of different missionaries in the development of Arunachal, Khandu said the State Government is ever ready to help such organizations that can be of assistance towards uplift of people.
Further expressing concern over growing divisions among people on political lines even among families, he urged the people to adopt politics only as a profession and not be subsumed by it completely.
Giving a call to shun money culture in politics, the Chief Minister made fervent appeal to all “not to choose leaders who buy your vote.” “A leader who buys vote will never deliver but will try to earn back his money while in power,” said Khandu.
He said that such messages are best conveyed through religious leaders as people respect them for their moral high ground. “If we politicians speak on money culture, people will interpret it politically,” said Khandu and appealed to all the religious leaders to pass on the message to stop money culture during polls.
He further categorically stated that people should vote for leaders with good intentions cutting across political lines. “I am not saying that you should vote for BJP and not for the Congress. But vote for leaders having good intentions and will perform,” said Khandu.
Further for assistance towards building of Ashram in memory of Prem Bhai, the Chief Minister announced to donate Rs 10 lakh from Dorjee Khandu trust and assured further support from the State Government.
Environment and Forest Minister Nabam Rebia and APCC president Takam Sanjoy also spoke on the occasion. Former Chief Minister Nabam Tuki was also present on the occasion.