Kohima, 1 March (MTNews): Nagaland Deputy Chief Minister TR Zeliang expressed profound concerns regarding the ‘Assam Healing (Prevention of Evil) Practices Bill, 2024.’ During the discussion on the final day of the fourth session of the 14th Nagaland Legislative Assembly, Zeliang underscored the importance of deliberating on the bill, highlighting Nagaland’s predominantly Christian population and the obligation to defend faith and beliefs as enshrined in the Indian Constitution’s provisions safeguarding freedom of religion (Article 25-28).

Zeliang strongly criticized the Assam Bill, alleging it undermines secularism and targets Christian practices. He argued that Assam’s diversity mirrors India’s secular fabric and emphasized the coexistence of religions in the Northeast. Zeliang condemned the Bill’s restriction on healing practices by Christian missionaries, asserting that healing is integral to Christian faith and protected under constitutional rights.

He condemned incidents of religious intolerance in Assam, including detentions of American citizens for alleged Christian preaching and demands to remove Christian symbols from schools. Zeliang urged Assam to revoke the Bill, considering it a threat to India’s secular principles. He highlighted constitutional guarantees of religious autonomy and urged Assam to respect minority rights, proposing to convey the Assembly’s opposition to Assam’s Legislative Assembly.

Minister of Tourism and Higher Education, Temjen Imna Along, also addressed the Assembly regarding the Assam Healing Practices Bill 2024. Minister Along emphasized the Nagaland legislature’s right to appeal to the Government of Assam and defend faith-based practices. He raised concerns about whether the legislation targets a specific minority and urged lawmakers to examine its intentions critically. Minister Along advocated for a diplomatic approach and urged legislators not to rush into condemning the bill.

In a similar vein, MLA Dr Sukhato Sema denounced the Assam Healing Practices Bill 2024, stating that it contradicts the secular ideals enshrined in the Indian Constitution’s preamble. He emphasized that secularism in India involves not only the coexistence of religious communities but also the separation of religion from state power. MLA Sema called for the esteemed legislature to reconsider the bill, specifically addressing concerns raised regarding Christian communities in Assam and Manipur.

Advisor for CAWD and Taxes, Kudecho Khamo, echoed these sentiments, labeling the terms used in the Assam Healing Practices Bill 2024 as incorrect and misleading. He deemed the bill a direct violation of the Constitution of India and fundamental principles of secularism. Khamo called upon the Assembly to promote religious tolerance, social harmony, and peaceful coexistence, urging rejection of the bill and ensuring free and fair practices and beliefs of all religious groups.

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