Karnataka mulls over bringing anti-religious conversion bill | Bengaluru News – Times of India


BENGALURU: The state government on Tuesday said it is mulling over bringing anti-religious conversion bill to stop involuntary religious conversions in the state.
However, no timeframe was given as to when the bill be tabled.
The debate over the involuntary religious conversion was raised by BJP MLA Goolihatti Shekar who spoke of how his mother was “instructed” by a specific Church to remove all pictures of gods and goddesses in their home and stick to a certain path of religious belief.
“My mother had gone to the church after there was a lot of publicity given in our hometown of people recovering from ailments. When she came back, after visiting the church, she removed all the gods and goddesses photographs and even changed her mobile ringtone to that of gospels. When we asked her to stay away from these preachers and preaching, she started to claim that her health might deteriorate and even die. Such acts have embarrassed the family and are even forced to withdraw from our Hindu traditional poojas in our temples,” he lamented, citing that there are scores of others in his own constituency of Hosadurga.
He said the churches are targeting primarily those who are from the backward regions and hail from the SC and ST communities by luring them with church benefits.
“If someone objects to such acts, then they are foisted with fake cases of atrocities against SC/ST communities, or even worse, rape charges,” he alleged.
Shekar’s views were backed by senior BJP MLA KG Bopaiah and even Speaker Vishweshwara Hegde Kageri over forced religious conversions.
“In our region, they are even converting Muslims apart from the backward classes of the Hindu community,” claimed Bopaiah.
JD(S) MLA Devanand Fulsing Chavan even claimed that a sizable number of the 50,000 strong Lambani community in the Vijayapura district have been targeted by the Christian missionaries.
However, Congress MLA K J George said such generalised statements of all churches indulging in forcible conversion or foisting atrocities and rape cases were invalid.
“Let the legislator say a specific church which was indulging in such acts,” he said.
The MLAs, however, said they had nothing against those who voluntarily exercise the right to convert to a particular religion but such forced interventions need to be checked.
“This debate of forcible conversions has been happening over the last few decades. I urge the government to bring such anti-conversion laws which have already been enacted in north Indian states,” said Kageri.
Responding to this, home minister Arga Jnanendra said he too had heard of such acts and that the government was abreast of such incidents.
“We are already in talks of bringing a law to put an end to the luring of people or forcible conversion of other faiths to Christianity or other religions. This is a big menace in the state and we intend to put an end to it,” he said.
Jnanendra said in the specific instance of Shekar’s mother, he said the police will be asked to be more vigilant in the matter.
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Sagar Biswas

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