Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma today distanced himself from a controversial letter from the Assam police requesting data on religious conversions and church certificates. He said corrective measures had been taken.
As the country celebrates Christmas, a letter from the Assam police special unit to the district administration seeking information on religious conversions and church numbers was leaked to the media, sparking fresh controversy even though Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma sought to dissociate from the country over the letter.
The letter, written by a Superintendent of Police (SP) in conjunction with the Special Unit, with a copy provided by NDTV, asks district SPs to provide information by December 22 on the number of churches, number of churches erected in the past year. Existing churches, instances of religious conversions over the past six years, and those involved in conversions.
“I don’t think we should ask for such information like how many churches (there) are there in Assam. It might hurt the sentiment of a particular religious group…I want to clarify the position of the Assam government. We don’t want any Any investigation by the church or any other religious institution.. In short, I am completely out of touch with this letter. It has never been discussed in any government forum. This letter is totally unfounded. As an Assamese, as Citizens of Assam, we want peace with all communities. I think the DGP will take corrective measures immediately,” Chief Minister Sarma said.
Copies of the letter, which was sent on December 16, were also marked as Special Police Chief (DGP) GP Singh and Home Ministry chief secretary Niraj Verma.
In October, police in Assam detained three Swedish nationals and later seven German nationals for violating tourist visa regulations for their missionary activities in the Dibrugarh and Karbi Anglong districts. They were fined $500 each for visa violations and then deported.
The development comes as parliamentary elections in the Christian-majority northeastern states of Meghalaya and Nagaland, two of which are due in the next two months, are due.
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