NEW DELHI, MAY 20 (PTI)
Taking strong exception to certain reported comments by Pope Benedict XVI on alleged religious intolerance in India, BJP and RSS today said his remarks were irrelevant and exposed "ignorance" about Indian traditions and laws.
"The Pope's remarks on religious freedom is not relevant to India. There is much more freedom here than in many countries. Freedom of religion does not mean conversions by coercion and allurements," BJP Spokesman Prakash Javadekar told reporters here.
Asserting that state Assemblies had the power to enact such legislations, he said, "such laws are not against conversion by conviction but if people convert en masse, motives have to be there".
In a hard-hitting response to the Pope's remarks, RSS National Executive Member Ram Madhav told PTI over phone from Leh, "the Pope is ignorant of Indian traditions and laws. Religious freedom does not include freedom to convert people of other religions using force, fraud or allurements. Missionaries in India have converted their religion into a commodity and are indulging in its shameless marketing." Slamming the Pope's reported remarks as "crass interference in the domestic affairs of India", he said, "before preaching to the Indian Government, let the Pope allow religious freedom in Vatican city. People living in glass houses better not attempt to throw stones at others".
Reacting to the Pope's comments, the Government had yesterday said it was "acknowledged universally" that India is secular and all religious faiths enjoy equal rights.