Amritsar, September 4
The National Commission for Minorities (NCM) has intervened to defuse tension between Sikh and Christian outfits on the allegations of “forcible conversions”.
“A meeting between representatives from the SGPC and Christian outfits, including bishops from Punjab, will be convened shortly to address the matter,” NCM chairperson Iqbal Singh Lalpura told The Tribune.
On August 30, four masked men had broken into the church at Thakarpura village near Patti town, vandalised it and fled after setting the pastor’s car on fire.
The intruders had pointed a pistol at the watchman’s head and tied his hands in the Tuesday night incident that was caught on CCTV cameras installed at the church.
“Dialogue is a must for a mutual understanding on the matter. On June 16, a meeting between both sides was held, but it remained inconclusive,” Lalpura said.
It has been learnt that Christian representatives had then reiterated that they were against forcible conversion through fraudulent or false assurances of “miraculous healing” or cash incentives.
Meanwhile, the NCM still awaits a response from the AAP government on the allegations that Christian missionaries were running a conversion campaign in Punjab. The commission had sought a report in this regard after the June 16 meeting.
The commission has approached the External Affairs Ministry to take up with its Pakistani counterpart the alleged forced conversion of a Sikh woman.
A teacher from Buner district of Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province was reportedly kidnapped at gunpoint on August 20 and forcibly married to her kidnapper.
Lalpura, a former IPS officer, said his endeavour would be to flag minorities’ concerns at the Central platform.
“My duty is to work as a link between minority communities and the Centre. The focus is on education, employment and development of the minorities without discrimination. There is a 15-point programme of the PM which speaks about the uplift of minorities. Some states, including Haryana, have no provision for a minority commission. As a result, minorities remain deprived of government’s schemes,” he added.
Focus on education
My duty is to work as a link between minorities and the Centre. The focus is on education, employment and development of the minorities without discrimination. — Iqbal Singh Lalpura, chairperson, National Commission for Minorities
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