Karnataka legislative panel orders survey of churches, staff

Karnataka legislative panel orders survey of churches, staff

The statements and actions come at a time when the Bommai-led government appears keen on introducing a bill to stop and punish anyone involved in forced conversions in the BJP-led administration.
A legislative committee on backward classes and minorities welfare has ordered a survey of authorised and unauthorised Churches and their personnel in the state. (HT)
Published on Oct 16, 2021 12:17 AM IST
By Sharan Poovanna, Bengaluru

Barely a month since the Basavaraj Bommai-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government mooted the possibility of bringing in a legislation to check forced religious conversions, the legislative committee on backward classes and minorities welfare has ordered a survey of authorised and unauthorised Churches and their personnel in the state.

“We have asked district authorities to furnish a detailed report on the number of authorised and unauthorised churches and Christian priests,” Gulihatti Shekhar, the BJP legislator from Hosadurga and a member of the committee said on Friday, Press Trust of India reported.

Shekar could not be reached for comment independently.

The committee has ordered a survey on all churches, priests and registering cases against any instances of forcible religious conversions.

The statements and actions come at a time when the Bommai-led government appears keen on introducing a bill to stop and punish anyone involved in forced conversions in the BJP-led administration.

Shekar had chaired a meeting on Wednesday without the presence of Dinakar Keshav Shetty, the chairman of the committee.

Shekar had initiated the conversation within the legislature during the monsoon session between September 13-24 when he made a passionate speech in the Zero Hour.

Shekar had said his mother was among those in Chitradurga district who was “brainwashed” by missionaries along with several others. He had claimed that people from marginalised communities and even Muslims were converted or they were slapped with false charges. He said that around 15,000-20,000 people in his constituency were possibly converted.

At least five other legislators had made similar claims with Devanand Fulsasingh Chavan of the Janata Dal (Secular) or JD(S), claiming that the missionaries were targeting the vulnerable Banjara community by converting entire “thanda’s” or settlements.

Shekar on October 11 had presided over the returning or “ghar wapsi” of at least four families, including his mother in his village. Shekar said those who returned were from the Sudugaadu Sidda community, among the most backward in the state.

The developments come at a time when there has been hate crimes reported from across the state and country with fundamentalist groups mobilising support for such causes to “safeguard” their respective religions.

Several other states in the country have introduced laws to prevent forced conversions. There have been allegations, especially against large Christian missionaries, who lure weak, oppressed and other people to convert with the promise of monetary and other rewards.

Even the legislative assembly speaker, Visweswara Heggade Kageri, said this was an issue that he had spoken about in detail about during the SM Krishna-led Congress government between 1999-2001.

“Till now those who lodged complaints against religious conversion were booked but we have asked police to register a case on receiving complaints and conduct a fair inquiry,” Shekhar said.

The legislator said that those who leave the community cannot claim double benefit.

“Due to these practices, the actual scheduled caste people are not getting the benefits,” Shekhar said, according to PTI.

Peter Machado, the Archbishop of Bengaluru on Friday, said the survey would stir up “anti-religious feelings” and was “dangerous”.

“We consider this exercise as futile and unnecessary. There is no good that will come out of it, In fact, in the background of the conversion bogey and anti-religious feelings that are being whipped up, it is dangerous to make such surveys. With this our community places of worship as also pastors and sisters will be identified and may be unfairly targeted,” the archbishop said in a statement on Friday.

He added that there were already such instances being reported from various parts of Karnataka.

“Why is the government interested in making survey of the religious personnel and places of worship only of the Christian Community? We are sad that the Hon’ble Chief Minister, Shri Basavaraj Bommai, whom we regard highly as a broad-minded and enlightened person succumbs to the pressures from fundamentalist groups, who wish to indulge in disturbing the peace, harmony and peaceful co-existence in the society,” he added.

The archbishop said that they are “always against forceful, fraudulent and incentivised conversions.”

Another person associated with the church said that these were “tactics” to deflect away from the more important issues like price rise and other concerns staring at the country. for a few to torment people.

“There has been loss of employment, fuel price loss and this government is on a shaky wicket. After they said that the next election would be fought under Bommai, he has resorted to such gimmicks of the RSS and are disturbing the peace,” a person associated with the Church said, requesting not to be named.

“We always take consent from the family, the person has to make an affidavit and we give them time to understand the learnings and its not just dipping someone in water and saying you are Christian,” the person cited above.

The church said the Constitution allows freedom of religion. With PTI inputs

source : https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.hindustantimes.com/cities/bengaluru-news/karnataka-legislative-panel-orders-survey-of-churches-staff-101634323625515-amp.html

 



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