The Assam government on Wednesday introduced a new bill in the state Assembly to ban “magical healing”, PTI reported.

The proposed legislation aims to eliminate “non-scientific healing practices used with malicious intent to exploit innocent individuals”, The Hindu reported.

Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said that the bill would be an important milestone to curb evangelism in Assam. “Whoever is Muslim, should remain Muslim,” he said. “Whoever is Christian, should remain Christian. And whoever is Hindu, let them remain Hindu so that a proper balance can be achieved in our state.”

The Assam Christian Forum had on February 15 termed the chief minister’s statement equating “magical healing” with proselytisation as misguided and misleading.

“Healing, in our context, is not synonymous with proselytisation,” the forum said. “It is a compassionate response to human suffering, irrespective of religious affiliations.”

The forum said that prayer is a universal practice across religions that is used to “invoke divine healing”. “Labelling it as magical healing oversimplifies the profound spiritual dimensions of faith and life,” it added.

The state Cabinet had on February 10 given its nod to introduce the bill in the Assembly. Sarma alleged that purported magical healing practices were being conducted to carry out religious conversions among tribal people.

“We are going to pilot this bill because we believe the religious status quo is very important for a proper balance,” the chief minister said on February 13.