CM ASSERTS ALL FORCED CONVERSIONS WILL BE THOROUGHLY PROBED
Chief Minister Pramod Sawant on Saturday said his government will enact, if needed, an anti-conversion law in the upcoming monsoon session of the Goa legislative assembly.
Sawant was reacting to the case of Siolim-based pastor Domnic D’Souza, who was released on bail on Friday after being arrested by Mapusa police on allegations of coercive religious conversion.
Although he has been released on bail, Domnic will be thoroughly investigated, Sawant said, adding that he was reportedly carrying out conversions for many years.
The chief minister said the government will act stringently in connection with any complaint it receives of such illegal religious conversion activity anywhere in the State and if the law is found lacking a new legislation will have to be brought in the ensuing session of the legislature.
He also said, reports have emerged that pastor Domnic was given a tax exemption on a luxury car a few years ago which will be investigated and the decision reversed.
“The due tax will be levied on him and those responsible for granting him the exemption will be pulled up,” Sawant said.
The Mapusa police had booked the Siolim-based pastor and his associates, including his partner Joan Mascarenhas, following two separate complaints alleging forcible conversion and also insulting religion and beliefs.
Domnic was also arrested but Mapusa JMFC Reina Fernandes had granted him conditional bail. The FIR against him, however, has no offence booked specifically related to the allegation of ‘coercive conversion’.
The case has evinced keen interest in several quarters, including political, perhaps owing to a recent claim by Sawant that people from marginalised and economically backward sections were being targeted for conversions.
Goa has no law against religious conversion and criminality if any in cases of conversion comes into play only if there is fraud, offer of allurements or use of criminal force, according to several legal experts.