After the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ruled Jharkhand drafted an anti-conversion bill, some other states in the North-East where the BJP has comfortable majorities to ensure their passage and pliable governments to oversee their implementation may follow suit.
The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) had in the past flagged issues regarding coercive conversions in Manipur and Assam. A senior RSS functionary based in Nagpur said, ‘Forcible religious conversion cannot be tolerated wherever it is happening in the country. More efforts need to made in this direction and we will continue to do what we have been doing in the past. The Jharkhand government’s anti-conversion bill is a step in the right direction.’
The RSS fears regarding Manipur in particular stem from ground reports sent by its functionaries in addition to the rise in population of other religions in the state in comparison to Hindus. More specifically, there seems to be an air of concern regarding the growth of Christian population in Manipur. The Christian population in Manipur has increased by 60% since the dawn of this century. The Muslim population in the State has grown by almost 30% since 2001. In comparison, the growth rate of Hindus has been around 19% in the State.
The growth rate of the Christian population in Manipur seems to have accelerated since the beginning of the 21st century. Between 1991-2001, the growth of Christian population in the state was 18%. This was slower than the previous decade. In 1981-1991, the Christian population in the state had risen 49%. The growth of Manipur’s population in 2001-11 was 24.5% while the Christian population the state ballooned by 60% during the same period. This has given Hindutva outfits the ammunition to whip up passions by claiming that large scale proselytisation is underway in Manipur.
A similar situation seems to be unfolding in Assam where communal tensions between the indigenous Ahoms and Bangladeshi Muslim immigrants have been a recurring feature over the decades. Even in Assam, the Christian population has grown by 18% since 2001. The Hindu population has grown 11% since the dawn of this century. Meanwhile Muslims in Assam have grown by almost 30% during the same period. Hindus have also shown a dis-proportionally lower growth of males vis-à-vis females in the State.
By Sai Manish