In an unprecedented move, the BJP government in Karnataka has decided to initiate some proactive measures to stop the menace of illegal conversions in the state. The government will now hunt for people and institutions involved in the division of Hindus in the state.
Churches will be surveyed to check illegal conversions
The state government will conduct a special survey of churches in Karnataka to throw out the unauthorised churches and check on forced religious conversion in the state. The recommendation about the survey has been made by the legislature committee on backward classes and minorities after a meeting headed by Goolihatti Shekhar, BJP MLA from Hasadurga. The responsibility of conducting the survey will be handled by various government authorities, including the deputy commissioners of districts. “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 unauthorised Christian priests and take action against them,” said Shekhar.
Speaking to the media Shekhar said that he was informed by representatives of the backward classes and minorities affairs, home, revenue, and law departments about the presence of 1,790 churches in the state. Additionally, the committee has asked for more information on the legal status of those churches. According to Shekhar, a lot of churches have denied providing any documented evidence for their existence. Hinting that mostly minority and backward are targeted for conversion, he said, “It is not a survey exactly but we have sought information on how many churches are authorised and how many aren’t. The minorities department has told us that there are 1,790 churches but in many places, churches have refused to provide documentation. We as a committee reserve the right to review all issues concerning backward classes and minorities,”.
Emphasising how the survey is targeted towards curbing the conversion gang targeting minorities and backward classes, he said,“ Of course it is. People from backward classes, poor families are being lured into conversion. Even as early as 2008 when I was minister, people from my community (Lambani) were being converted with allurement. I was even threatened for interfering. Now the instances have increased,”.
Congress and Christian missionaries attack the government
Meanwhile, the move by the state government has come under attack by Congress and the Christian leaders across the state. They alleged that it will unfairly target the Christian community in the state. Rizwan Arshad, the Congress MLA cried foul on the decision-making process to conduct the survey. On the other hand, the Christian community Reverend Peter Machado, Archbishop of Bengaluru is leading the opposition on the issue. Calling the survey a draconian measure, he demanded to withdraw it in totality. He also informed that a memorandum against the committee’s decision as well as the proposed anti-conversion law has been submitted to the chief minister Shri Basavaraj Bommai.
Forced conversion-An old issue making headlines in 2021
Although going from centuries, the forced conversion by Christian missionaries has been making headlines in the state for the past few years. It came to the state government’s concern when in September 2021, Shekhar informed the state assembly about how his mother was targeted by the Christian conversion lobby to convert her. He described how these rackets took advantage of her poor mental state and pushed Christian iconography and hymns on her Recently, the conversion rackets active in Udupi, Bengaluru, and Chickballapur have been busted in the last month. A total of 4 people were arrested in Udupi for forcing people to convert to Christianity. Karnataka government has vowed to bring anti-conversion law in the state, similar to the one brought in by BJP governments in Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, and Gujarat.
History of Forced Conversion in India
The conversion lobby has been active in India for more than 500 years. A large section of India’s Christian and Muslim population is believed to be belonging to indigenous Bharat, but their forefathers and mothers were lured into other religions by deceit and other means.
After independence, the converted people along with those who converted them formed a sizeable proportion of the population. So, they were given special constitutional rights in a secular constitution in the form of ‘minority protection doctrine’. Later, these minority rights turned out to be a thorn for majority Hindus, as people from the Hindu community were constantly getting pulled into the minority umbrella through conversion. Successive Congress governments at the national level along with various state governments also played along and used the minority appeasement to strengthen their dirty politics over the personal beliefs of the people. Southern states such as Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, and Karnataka have a major share in the guilt of succumbing to the conversion rackets by overemphasising minority rights.
The fundamental rule of the social contract is that “I am making this compromise so that I won’t’ve to make a further compromise in future to adjust my neighbour”. The Hindus of India made this exact unsaid promise to the constitution of India in 1950.
Over a period of time, the scope of these compromises has been pushed to its limit and now Hindus are making a conscious effort to regain their deserved place in the country. The survey conducted by the Karnataka government is a small step, but a positive one towards securing the future of Sanatan Dharma.