GUWAHATI: BJP-ruled Arunachal Pradesh is likely to repeal the Arunachal Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act or the Anti-Conversion Law which was passed in 1978.
Chief Minister Pema Khandu said the law could undermine secularism and was probably targeted towards Christians. He assured that it would be brought before 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 largescale violence in the state and break Arunachal into pieces,” the CM said.
Acknowledging the contributions of missionaries in the state’s development, he said his government was ever ready to help such organizations which could be of assistance towards the upliftment of people.
Over the past few decades, Arunachal saw a steady spurt in conversion, primarily from the indigenous faiths to Christianity. According to the census of 2011, 30.26 per cent of the frontier state’s 13 lakh population are Christians. This is up from 18.7 per cent in 2001. The state had no Christians in 1951.
The drop of 4.5 per cent in the population of followers of indigenous faiths was a cause of concern for their adherents. According to the census of 1981, Arunachal had 51.6 per cent followers of Donyi-Polo and other local faiths. The rate of conversion started gathering pace in the 1990s.
Christianity and Buddhism are the two major religions here. The third, Donyi-Polo (meaning sun-moon), is a coalition of indigenous animist belief systems centred around the worship of the sun and the moon. In the face of inroads being made by Christianity, Donyi-Polo has seen a steady decline in the number of its adherents. Much of it can be attributed to followers abandoning the faith due to its expensive rituals.