Religious conversion in TN schools controversy revives after Madras HC intervention

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Chennai, May 6

The religious conversion controversy in Tamil Nadu schools has sprung up again after the Madras High Court observed 'what harm will be there in directing the state to come out with guidelines to prevent religious conversion in the government and government-aided minority schools'.

The Madras High Court vacation bench of Justice R. Mahadevan and Justice S. Ananthi on Thursday observed this while hearing the public interest litigation filed by Advocate B. Jagannathan.

In the PIL, the advocate sought a direction from the state government to frame effective guidelines and take all the necessary steps, including corrective measures. The petitioner also requested the court to direct the state government to take strict measures and ban forced religious conversion in all the government and government-aided schools.

However, the government countered the argument stating that the petitioner was creating a major issue based on two stray incidents. Additional Advocate General J. Ravindran while arguing in the court said, "The government will take stringent action if religious conversions are reported in the government schools or government-aided schools. The petitioner has cited only two stray incidents and that stringent action was taken against these incidents and perpetrators were arrested."

A Class 11 girl student of a Thanjavur minority school had committed suicide alleging that she was forced into religious conversion by a warden of her school, who is a nun. The girl in her suicide note had said that the warden forced her to menial work when she refused to convert and that this has affected her studies as well.

Students in Kanniyakumari district had recently lodged a complaint against a teacher that she was forcing them to read the Bible and had belittled the Hindu Gods, including Lord Shiva.

The BJP Tamil Nadu unit said that the government must take stringent measures against forced religious conversions in the government schools and government-aided schools.

Dr. R. Padmanabhan, Director, Socio-Economic Development Foundation, a think tank based out of Madurai  said, "The Madras High Court has opened a discussion and this will have to be discussed on public platforms. One has the right to practice any religion in our country but that does not give the right to convert or force to convert a person to another religion that too a school student."



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