Karnataka govt mulling to introduce anti-conversion law: home minister
The Karnataka government is considering enacting a law to regulate religious conversion, after a BJP MLA said his mother converted to Christianity after falling prey to inducement, state Home Minister Araga Jnanendra told the legislative assembly on Tuesday (September 21).
Raising the matter in the zero hour of the assembly, Hosadurga BJP MLA Goolihatti Shekhar, said religious conversions by force or through inducement have become rampant in the state. He gave the instance of his own mother who has converted to Christianity.
“My mother has been converted by a Christian. She was brainwashed into not wearing vermillion on her forehead, abandoning idol worship and so on. Even her phone’s ringtone is a Christian song,” he said, adding that the conversion has caused embarrassment to his family.
“We have even lost the opportunity to worship our gods in our village. If we try to convince my mother against it, she threatens to end her life. This is the pain I’m personally going through,” he rued.
Shekhar said that that nearly 20,000 people in his constituency have been converted into Christianity in a similar manner. Dalits, OBCs and Muslims are usually the soft targets for conversion, he said.
Shekhar said it is the prerogative of these communities to convert if they want, but after conversion they should be given the benefit meant for Christians or any other community they join, and should forego SC/ST and other benefits.
“We too go to Churches and Dargahs, but after coming home, we practice our religion, but in these cases (of conversion) people completely follow the other religion as they are brainwashed,” he said, alleging that people from the SC/ST communities are targeted and are even booked under atrocity and rape cases to see to that they get converted.
“Before the anti-superstition law came, Hindus in rural areas would go to local deities to find cures for illnesses. That has stopped now. But Christian missionaries offer inducements by offering cure and other benefits,” Shekhar said, urging the government to bring in a law to end the ‘menace’.
Another senior BJP MLA K G Bopaiah, said such religious conversions are being carried out systematically by foreign missionaries through some organisations here.
“The way in which religious conversion has been controlled in Uttar Pradesh, by bringing a law – it will be the right step or else it will lead to disturbance of peace in the society. We have to take a strong step as it will affect the society,” he said.
Nagthan MLA Devanand Fulasing Chavan said Vijayapura is home to 3.5 lakh people belonging to the Banjara community. “Churches are coming up there and people are being converted in tandas, which is leading to the division of the community,” he said.
Speaker Vishweshwar Hegde Kageri, pointing out that he too had raised the issue of religious conversion as an opposition MLA in the past during the chief ministership of S M Krishna, nudged the government to consider bringing in a law for this.
“Other states have brought a law. Maybe it will help if it is done here too,” he said.
In his reply to in the assembly, minister Jnanendra said the government is aware that such conversions need to be “controlled” and will keep an eye on such activities.
“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,” Jnanendra said.
There have been serious discussions regarding controlling such religious conversions, by bringing in a bill or in any other form.
“To increase the followers of a particular faith, people being converted through inducements or by misusing their health condition, is not right,” he said, adding that there is freedom to voluntarily follow any religion.
(With inputs from agencies)