Will soon bring bill against forcible conversions: Karnataka minister | Bengaluru News – Times of India

BENGALURU: After three BJP-ruled states — Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh — Karnataka is planning to bring in a law to prevent forcible conversion of religion.
“The issue (of religious conversions) has come to the government’s notice. Converting people from one religion to another by inducing them is a punishable offence. We will keep vigil on such activities. There is a wide network working on religious conversions across the country and we will soon bring an anti-conversion bill to rein them in,” home minister Araga Jnanendra told the assembly on Tuesday.
He said the government has asked officials to study the law implemented by the three states. Haryana too is working on the final draft of an anti-conversion law.
The Karnataka government did not offer a timeline but state law department sources said the bill may be tabled in the winter session of the legislature if everything goes according to plan.
BJP MLA: Religious conversions by force have become rampant
The minister’s remarks came as several BJP legislators alleged that some churches and missionaries were indulging in religious conversion by targeting Dalits, backward and Muslim communities.
Hosadurga BJP MLA Goolihatti Shekhar, who raised the issue during zero hour, said religious conversions by force or through inducement have become rampant in the state. He cited his own mother, who has embraced Christianity, as an example.
“Christian evangelists are indulging in rampant religious conversion in my (Hosadurga) constituency. They have got about 20,000 people converted to Christianity from the Hindu religion,” he alleged. He said some churches and Christian missionaries are luring innocent people, and those who are ill with a promise of cure, to their religious places where where they are “brainwashed”.
Shekhar said his mother was “instructed” by a specific church to remove all pictures of gods and goddesses in their home and not to wear ‘kumkum’ (vermillion) on her forehead. “We are finding it difficult to perform puja (worship) at home. It has been very difficult for us,” Shekhar said. “If someone objects to such acts, then they are foisted with fake cases of atrocities against SC/ST communties, or even worse, rape charges,” he further alleged.
Former Speaker KG Bopaiah and Nagthan MLA Devanand Chavan also raised concerns over an alleged increase in conversions in Karnataka. Chavan alleged that a sizeable number of the 50,000-strong Lambani community in Vijayapura district has been targeted by evangelists.
Congress MLA KJ George, however, said such sweeping statements are invalid and unwarranted. “The legislator should specify the name of the church which was indulging in such acts,” he said.
Taking note of the issue, Speaker Vishweshwar Hegde Kageri asked the Basavaraj Bommai-led government to address the issue and consider bringing an anti-conversion law as some other states have done. The law implemented by the three BJP-ruled states focuses on preventing interfaith couples from getting married, on the ground that such marriages involve forced conversion.

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Sagar Biswas

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