LUCKNOW: In a strong rebuff to 104 former civil servants who had written a letter to UP CM Yogi Adityanath urging him to withdraw the state's new ordinance against religious conversions, 224 retired civil servants including IAS, IPS, IFS officers, retired judges of various High Courts and retired defence personnel, have written a letter in support of the anti-conversion ordinance and released it to the media here on Monday.
Notably, last week, over 100 ex-bureaucrats had written an open letter to UP CM saying that new anti-conversion law of Uttar Pradesh had turned the state into “the epicentre of politics of hate, division and bigotry”.
Having written the letter as members of ‘Forum of Concerned Citizens’, the signatories have reiterated their belief in Indian democracy and its institutions while dubbing the 104 ex-bureaucrats as “visibly biased with an anti-establishment attitude despite overtly posing as non-political.”
“This group seems to have usurped to themselves the constitutional power of judicial review to put every law of the land to the test of their own whims,” says the letter.
Stating that the "politically motivated pressure group" does not represent thousands of former civil servants, police and other officers, former judges, officers of defence forces, professionals, the signatories of the letter accused the other group of "availing every opportunity to put Indian democracy, its institutions, and persons legitimately holding high offices in poor light before the whole world by making ill-considered public statements or writing misconceived communications to various authorities."
The letter, undersigned by former Chief Secretary of Uttar Pradesh and Secretary-General of Rajya Sabha Yogendra Narain and attached with the list of 224 signatories, claims that the advice extended by the pressure group of 104 former bureaucrats to UP CM Yogi Adityanath in an open communication exhorting him to re-learn the Constitution of India vis-a-vis UP Prohibition of Forced Conversion of Religion Ordinance -2020 was “irresponsible and demeaning the democratic institutions.”
"The UP Prohibition of Forced Conversion of Religion Ordinance-2020 applies to everyone belonging to any religion, provides for the regulation of conversion through prescribed declaration and giving notice to authorities for ruling out unlawful conversions," says the letter.
It further supports newly-promulgated anti-conversion law saying: "It rightly provides that marriages done for the sole purpose of unlawful conversion can be declared void by the family courts on a petition by of the two parties in a marriage."
Quoting a series of recent instances, wherein, women became the victim of either conversion or were murdered for refusing to convert, the letter says that the new law safeguards the dignity of women involved in marriages leading to conversions and further makes special provisions for minors, women or anyone belonging to Scheduled Castes or Scheduled Tribes.
The letter calls the earlier communication by the group of 104 "a hasty generalisation based on a solitary incident of an alleged lapse in Moradabad while implementing the UP anti-conversion law or regulating conversions in UP."
The letter dubs the communication by the other group as "the shocking obsession of the biased of stoking the communal fire by instigating the religious minorities."
"Any seasoned civil servant having spent a lifetime in governance knows that there can be, as per judgement of some people, some incidents of the alleged lapse in implementing the best of laws, but systems are always there in place to punish those found guilty of any mala-fide misconduct and to provide relief to the sufferer," says the letter.
The current letter also slams the earlier group for allegedly presenting a distorted reference to Ganga-Jamni culture in their communication to UP CM. "The Ganga-Jamni culture stands for harmonious inter-faith evolution and co-existence art, culture, language, etc; but certainly not the Unlawful conversions with criminal intent, leading to murders, mutilations, torture and betrayal of women in particular," it adds.
The letter also elaborates on the historical background of the anti-conversion law both in pre-independent and post-independent India.
Those among the prominent signatories of the letter include former Chief Justices of Delhi High Court, Sikkim High court, former judges of Bombay, MP, Rajasthan, Kerala, UP and Uttarakhand HCs, former Chief Secretaries of Punjab, Haryana, Kerala, retired DGPs of Punjab, J&K, UP, Maharashtra, Tripura, Bihar, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, CISF, ITBP, a number of former ambassadors and senior defence officers (retired).