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.