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India: Indian Government Rejects Atheist’s Plea to Change His Name To “RV155677820”

Thursday 22 March 2018, by siawi3

Source: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2018/03/21/indian-government-rejects-atheists-plea-to-change-his-name-to-rv155677820/#u0SdLKxjfXOotOdR.99

Indian Government Rejects Atheist’s Plea to Change His Name To “RV155677820”

March 21, 2018

by Hemant Mehta

Last May, an Indian man named Rajveer Upadhyay tried to change his name because he felt it was a dead giveaway for his religion and caste. He was no longer religious, so the change was an opportunity for a fresh start.

The problem was what he wanted to call himself.

Goodbye, Rajveer. Hello, RV155677820.

(As if Indian names weren’t hard enough to pronounce already…)

image: http://wp.production.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/files/2017/05/RVNumbers.png
RVNumbers

He figured it was a formality, though, since the change of religion already required government intervention, a result of the ironically named Gujarat Freedom of Religion Act. Passed in 2006, that bill was supposed to prevent people from being forced into religious conversion… but it also got in the way of freedom of choice. (That’s a separate issue.)

Unfortunately for him, the gazette office in the city of Rajkot has now rejected his application without citing a reason.

In response, he was informed, “New name according to your desire cannot be published”.

Upadhyay now wants to move the high court, challenging the Gujarat Freedom of Religion Act which, according to him, doesn’t have a provision to embrace atheism.

“I am consulting advocates to file a plea before the HC to decide the constitutional issue of the Gujarat Freedom of Religion Act, which does not have provisions for someone to turn atheist. The act only allows conversion from one religion to another.”

Attempts to reach Mr. 155677820 for comment last night were unsuccessful, though he told me last year, “I think I am success 100%.” That turned out to be a bad prediction. For his sake, I hope the appeal works. Though I have a hard time imagining that happening.