Karnataka govt mulls law against conversion after BJP MLA says his mom embraced Christianity

News Network
September 21, 2021

Bengaluru, Sept 21: Karnataka Home Minister Araga Jnanendra told the Legislative Assembly that the government is considering a law to regulate religious conversions after a BJP legislator said his mother had become a Christian due to inducements.

Hosadurga legislator Goolihatti Shekhar, raising the issue during zero hour, said “forced” religious conversions are rampant in the state.

“My mother has been converted by a Christian. She was brainwashed into not keeping vermilion on her forehead, abandoning idol worship and so on. Even her phone’s ringtone is a Christian song,” he said. “This has caused much embarrassment in the family.”

Apparently, nearly 20,000 people in his constituency have become Christians this way. “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,” he said.

Shekhar said Dalits, OBCs and even Muslims are being converted. “I agree that everybody is free to follow the faith of their choice. But if someone takes up Christianity, that person should forego SC/ST benefits,” he said. 

Former Speaker KG Bopaiah said religious conversion was “a serious problem” across the state, especially in SC/ST colonies. “We need an Uttar Pradesh-like law against religious conversions.”

Nagthan MLA Devanand Fulasing Chavan said Vijayapura is home to 3.5 lakh people belonging to the Banjara community. “Churches are coming up and people are being converted in tandas, which is leading to the division of the community,” he said.

In his reply, Jnanendra said the government is aware of religious conversions taking place. “It’s a punishable offence to get people to convert into a religion by way of inducement. There’s a widespread network not just in the state, but across the country. Should we introduce a Bill or do something else...we are discussing how to curb this,” he said.

The minister said conversions take place to add to the tally of a particular community. “It’s one thing for a person to voluntarily adopt a religion. But, offering a cure for illness or misusing religion in other ways is not right. This could also lead to communal disharmony,” he said.

Speaker Vishweshwar Hegde Kageri nudged the government to consider bringing in a law for this. “Other states have brought a law. Maybe it’ll help if that’s done here, too,” he said.

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News Network
November 26,2021

Lucknow, Nov 26: Four members of a family in Uttar Pradesh's Prayagraj, including a 16-year-old girl and a 10-year-old boy, were found murdered at their home on Thursday morning.

Relatives of the family, which belongs to a Scheduled Caste, have claimed the girl could have been raped before her death, and they have accused a neighbouring family, which belongs to the so-called "upper caste", of the crime.

Police have registered an FIR with charges including gang rape and murder against 11 named persons. The Prayagraj police chief told the media some people had been taken into custody for questioning.

Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, who is the party's in-charge for the state, which votes in an Assembly election next year, is due to visit Prayagraj at 3 pm, and is expected to meet with the family members of those killed.

The bodies of a 50-year-old man, his 45-year-old wife, and their children were found at their home.

Police said they may have been attacked with a sharp weapon, and that there were grievous injuries on their bodies. The girl's body was found in a room inside the house, while the other three bodies were found together in the courtyard.

A member of the extended family told the media of a land dispute with the "upper caste" family that had been festering since 2019, and claimed the victims had been assaulted by that family in September. The police, however, were trying to force a compromise, the family member alleged.

"The police were forcing the murder victims to compromise. Sushil Kumar (a police constable) used to come to us and pressure us to compromise. The police used to sit at their (accused) homes. The local inspector also told us to compromise," the family member told the media.

"On September 21 the family was beaten up but an FIR was filed only after a week, and then a counter FIR was filed against the aggrieved family too, though they were the ones who got beaten up," the family member added.

"It appears all four were hit on the head with an axe. There are grievous injuries on the bodies. Initial information suggests that in 2019 and 2021 they had filed cases under the SC/ST Act against some people related to a land dispute. The family alleged there was no headway in these cases. We will take strict action," Sarvashrestha Tripathi, the Prayagraj police chief, said in a video statement. 

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News Network
November 30,2021

Riyadh, Nov 30: Saudi Arabia’s General Directorate of Passports (Jawazat) has announced that expatriates from 17 countries including India can benefit from the recent government decision to extend the validity of residency permit (iqama), exit and re-entry visas and visit visas without any fee.

The 17 countries are India, Indonesia, Pakistan, Turkey, Lebanon, Egypt, Brazil, Ethiopia, Vietnam, Afghanistan, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Mozambique, Botswana, Lesotho, and Eswatini (Swaziland).

The Jawazat has started automatically extending the validity of iqama and exit and re-entry visa until Jan. 31, 2022 without charging expatriate levy or any other fees. This is in line with implementation of the directives of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman.

The extension will not be applicable to expatriates who are fully vaccinated in the Kingdom before their departure abroad on exit and re-entry visa.

The King’s directive also includes extending the validity of visit visas issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for visitors who are outside the Kingdom and who are from countries facing travel ban as a result of the outbreak of coronavirus. The period of extension will be until Jan. 31.

This extension falls within the government’s continuing efforts to mitigate the financial and economic repercussions of COVID-19, and as part of precautionary measures and preventive protocols that ensure the safety of citizens and expatriates.

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News Network
November 20,2021

New Delhi, Nov 20: Om Raj excitedly shows his small diary carrying details of all the friends he made at Singhu border, while Manak Singh says he will miss the protest site which witnessed their daily hardship for over a year to convince the Centre to repeal the farm laws.

Sitting with his friends on a cot near temporary tents set up at Ghazipur border, Raj (85) said the protest venue now feels like home and that the agitating farmers have developed a deep bond with each other.

The farmer, a native of Moradabad in Uttar Pradesh, shows his diary in which he has meticulously maintained details of all the protesters he has befriended in the past one year.

"See this is my tenth diary and there are hardly any pages left. I have maintained details of all the farmers I met here and became friends with over the period. We all stay in touch. The bond that we developed here has only become stronger. I also plan to visit them,” Raj says enthusiastically.

At Ghazipur border, one of the three prominent venues of the anti-farm laws agitation, protesters were filled with excitement following Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s announcement of repealing the controversial farm laws.

Another protestor says he will definitely miss the venue after he will return to his village.

Asked if he ever went to his hometown during the last one year, Raj recalled that he visited his native place on just two to three occasions and returned within a few days.

Since the last two months, the elderly farmer has set up a small venture which he starts at around 10 am and closes by 5 in the evening. He says the intention behind it was just to have some ‘gupshup’ (conversation) and pass the time with other farmers.

He also showed the spread of the products for sale -- bidis, matchboxes, badges and flags.

"When the farmers get bored, they sit here and pass time. I sell bidis and matchboxes which usually fetches me around Rs 100 a day,” he said.

Manak Singh (77), a native of Amroha district in Punjab, says, "This spot has become our place for chit-chat. We will stay here until all the laws are repealed as per legal procedure. We will not go unless all our listed seven demands are met by the central government. This announcement by the Centre could have also been done with upcoming elections in mind."

Having braved severe weather conditions and other hardship during their protest, the farmers say this has only made their brotherhood and will power stronger.

"If the government would have made this announcement earlier, we would not have suffered so much," a protester rues.

Meanwhile, a few tents away, 68-year-old Ram Kumar Sharma, hailing from Nithari village in Noida, had been serving ‘langar’ (free meals) from morning till night, at the protest site for nearly a year now.

Sharma, who is also a member of the Bharatiya Kisan Union, says he comes around 10 am and leaves at night after the last langar is served.

“I have been organising the langar with the spirit of social service. I will miss the farmers after they will leave the site,” he says.

“I do not want to see anyone going back with an empty stomach. I am myself a farmer and do not want to see anyone hungry,” he adds.

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