Karnataka orders survey of churches to ‘check forced conversions’ | Bengaluru News – Times of India

BENGALURU: The legislature panel on backward classes and minorities welfare has asked for a survey of churches in the state in a bid to weed out “unauthorised” ones.
Various government authorities and the deputy commissioners of districts have been instructed to conduct the survey.
Goolihatti Shekhar, BJP MLA from Hosadurga, who chaired the committee’s meeting on October 13, in the absence of its chairperson BJP Kumta MLA Dinakar Keshav Shetty, told TOI that the survey aims to check “forced religious conversion which is rampant in some parts of Karnataka” including his home district Chitradurga.
He said the representatives of the backward classes and minorities affairs, home, revenue and law departments had stated at the meeting that there are about 1,790 churches in Karnataka.
The committee has asked them to find out how many of them are illegally established, he said, adding that according to the home department, 36 cases of forced conversion have been registered across the state.
“The menace of forced conversion is so rampant that the perpetrators are even converting residences into churches and Bible societies.
We need to find out the number of such establishments and also unauthorised Christian priests and take action against them,” said Shekhar. He said the churches and Bible societies, which have not been registered and lack permission of the directorate of minorities welfare or minorities commission, are considered ‘unauthorised.’ He said the meeting was attended by nine members while the panel comprises 20 members, with the next meeting scheduled for October 27.
Once the report is prepared, it will be submitted before the committee which in turn will be tabled at the assembly for government action.
Some members to raise objection in next meeting
Shekhar’s move, however, has evoked sharp reaction from other members of the panel and many have decided to oppose it in the next meeting. “Many members were absent in the meeting for valid reasons and Shekhar seems to have taken advantage of it. We will oppose it in the next meeting,” said Rizwan Arshad, Congress MLA from Shivajinagar.
Shekhar is apparently particular about acting against those involved in forced conversions as he had complained that his mother was a victim as she was converted into Christianity. He had raised the issue at the monsoon session of legislature last month.
Earlier this week, he claimed that his mother and four other families were brought back as part of the Ghar Wapsi programme he had launched.
Archdiocese opposes move

Archdiocese of Bangalore on Friday opposed the state government’s move to survey Christian missionaries and their places of worship.
Rev Peter Machado, Archbishop of Bangalore, said the exercise is unnecessary. “With this, our community places of worship as also pastors and sisters will be identified and may be unfairly targeted. We are already hearing of such sporadic incidents in the north and in Karnataka,” said Machado.
“Let the government take the count of the educational institutions and health centres run by the Christian missionaries. That will give a fair idea of the service that is rendered by the Christian community to nation building. How many people are converted in these places and institutions? If Christians are converting indiscriminately then why is the percentage of Christian population reducing regularly when compared to the others? Why is the government interested in making surveys of the religious personnel and places of worship only of this community? We are sad that CM Basavaraj Bommai succumbed to pressure from fundamentalist groups” he said.
He said the Madras court had recently stated that merely going to church and displaying Christian symbols does not mean that a person has converted. “The community is patriotic, law abiding and would like to be the foremost in the service of the poor and downtrodden in the country. We need support and encouragement from the government,” he added.

Source link


Sagar Biswas

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *