Tribal Groups Oppose Arunachal Government’s Plan To Repeal Anti-Conversion Law, Call It Minority AppeasementTribal men in traditional dress in Tawang. (TAUSEEF MUSTAFA/AFP/Getty Images)

Tribal groups in Arunachal Pradesh have opposed the state government’s plan to repeal the anti-conversion law (Arunachal Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act) passed in 1978, The Hindu has reported.

Addressing a gathering at a function organised by the Arunachal Pradesh Catholic Association on Tuesday, Chief Minister Pema Khandu, who leads the Bharatiya Janata Party government in the state, said the anti-conversion law “undermines secularism and is targetted towards the Christians”.

According to the report, the groups have said that the law is important as it plays a vital role in safeguarding traditional belief systems and local cultures.

At least two tribal outfits in the state, the Indigenous Faith and Cultural Society of Arunachal Pradesh and the Nyishi Indigenous Faiths and Cultural Society, have said that the government’s move is an attempt at “minority appeasement and detrimental to the growth of indigenous people of the State”.

According to these groups, the growth of Christianity in the State - from being non-existent in 1951 to being the largest religious group at 30.26 per cent in 2011 - has been at the expense of the followers of indigenous faiths.

“We condemn the statement of the Chief Minister as the anti-conversion law, if repealed, would threaten the indigenous culture of the State. There is also the apprehension among the people that the Chief Minister is bringing the denizens of Arunachal Pradesh under the minority or general category and stripping the special privileges which we have been enjoying as Scheduled Tribes,” IFCSAP general secretary, Bai Taba, was quoted by The Hindu as saying.

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