The Maharashtra government on Friday told the legislative assembly here that it would initiate a debate on the necessity of an anti-conversion law in the state.

Minister of State for Home, Deepak Kesarkar said, at present cases of forced conversion are dealt under IPC Sections 295 to 298 dealing with offences relating to religion.

“We dont have a separate law to deal with conversion. The cases of conversion are negligible in the state. Last year, only one case was reported,” Kesarkar said.

Kesarkar was responding to supplementaries by Atul Bhatkalkar and Yogesh Sagar (both BJP) on whether the state would consider enacting a law to prevent religious conversions.

He said the state doesn't have a conversion law. “But, we would initiate a debate on whether such a law is necessary.”

The issue was raised by Anil Bonde (BJP) through a calling attention notice about reports of Christian evangelists trying conversion of tribals in Warud taluka of Amravati district.

He said they were using photographs of Rashtrasant Tukdoji Maharaj and Gram Geetacharya Tukaramdada to induce people to convert to Christianity.

“They are distributing pamphlets of thoughts of Tukdoji Maharaj and Tukaramdada saying that they were views of Jesus Christ and Bible,” he charged.

Bonde also charged that the Christian groups were circulating Christian prayer books in the name of Gurudev Seva Mandal and Satyashodhak Samaj. He also said these groups were spreading hatred about Hindu deities and criticising idol worship.

He demanded action against such groups for trying to woo poor people into Christianity by propagating thoughts of Hindu saints as that of Jesus Christ.

Kesarkar said Bonde had given a complaint in this regard to Amravati District Collector on March 26. The complaint has been forwarded to Superintendent of Police, Amravati and Warud Police is investigating the matter.

If the case is found true, proper action would be taken, he said.

When members sought filing of FIR in the case immediately, Kesarkar said he has given the police 15 days time to probe the case.