Will not allow BJP Govt to Pass Anti-conversion Bill in Assembly: Siddaramaiah
Belagavi: “Expressing opposition to the proposed anti-conversion Bill by the State Government the Christian community under the leadership of Prashanth Jathanna State president of Bharathiya Christa Okkuta and in association with UFC Belagavi staged a hunger strike during the winter session in front of Suvarna Soudha, Belagavi on December 17.
Senior Congress leader and former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah who attended the protest meet accused the ruling BJP in Karnataka of trying to divert the attention of the people from real issues by bringing in emotive ones like “Love Jihad, Anti Conversion” etc. with an aim to implementing its “hidden agenda”.
Expressing confidence about the Congress coming to power after the 2023 Assembly polls, the Leader of Opposition in the state assembly also said that his party will not allow the anti-conversion bill, which the government is planning to introduce during the ongoing winter session of the legislature, to be passed.
“Hundred percent we will come back (to power after 2023 assembly polls). During the MLC polls from local authorities constituencies we got about 44,000 out of total 94,000 votes, while BJP got about 37,000, JD(S) got some 10,000,” Siddaramaiah said.
Further alleging that to divert the attention of the people from real issues, the government was making attempts such as bringing the anti-conversion law, Siddaramaiah said, “is there a need for it? There is no need. If there is forced conversion, file a complaint against those involved and punish them.
There is a law already.” Pointing at Hosadurga BJP MLA Goolihatti Shekhar’s claim that religious conversions by force or through inducement have become rampant and that his own mother is a victim of such an act, he asked, “Did he or his mother file a complaint?” Accusing the BJP of trying to implement its “hidden agenda” by raising emotive issues like “Lovi Jihad, Anti Conversion”, Siddaramaiah in response to a question whether the Congress would scrap the law on coming to power, said, “we will first stop the law from being passed now. let’s see (what is to be done on coming to power if it is passed now).”
The protesters submitted a memorandum to the chief minister through Labor minister Shivaram Hebbar.
The Text of the memorandum ……..
Subject: Consequences of Anti-conversion Bill in Karnataka and the Atrocities on Christians
1 Enactment of this Act would curtail the freedom of speech guaranteed in Article 19 of the Constitution of India Right to propagate and right to religion (if a person expresses his belief to others, the government can now unilaterally file cases on trumped-up charges), The conversion barrier proposed by the Government of Kamataka is against the right of individual choice and wishes given in the Constitution.
This bill is ostensibly aimed at Christians and allows rioters and vigilantes to take the law into their hands (to create mischief when they are denied admission in school colleges and license to abuse Christian leaders and Christian clergy).
There is no evidence of forced conversion in Karnataka as the number of undocumented cases in our state has not been proven and there is no increase in the number of Christians according to government statistics (as per Karnataka government census reports, the percentage of the population in the state from 1.87 per cent in 2001 to 2011 was 1.87 per cent. According to the baseless allegations levelled at us by representatives of the government / ruling party, where did the converts go)
A new report by PUCL recently. Published organised violence and harassment targeting 39 places of worship in Karnataka State in the year 2021. Massive attacks were carried out at the place of worship (physical assault on women and children) Force closure of places of worship, depicting Christians as converts, insulting Hindu Gods and abusive attacks on teachers (priests/pastors) The PUCL in its report states that most cases police had failed to offer protection to the victims and failed to take action against perpetrators. Video recording attacks on Christians, priests and worshippers on cell phones and circulated to celebrate the win over Christian faith to investigate further attacks on peaceful Christians.
We, as Christians, also oppose forced conversion. However, this act is not necessary; conversion of forced liability has not been made in our state till now. The government should bring new legislation against the assailants and the instigators on religious freedom to protect the micro minority of the Christian community.
Why is the state government and its leaders interested in another person’s religion? Who has authorized the lumpen elements in society to interfere in matters of faith and freedom? How can one decide what religion and faith one should practice? What are forcible conversions? Who authorized certain organizations to decide which religion to choose?
The onus is on law enforcement to proceed as per the Constitution of India. Does the state government interfere in the issue of one person’s religion, contrary to the intent and scope of the Constitution? Why does the state want to deny its citizens the fundamental right to practice the religion of one’s choice?
We oppose the anti-conversion bill tabled as a concerted effort to demonize the Christian community and to paint its leaders as malicious individuals preying on innocent Hindus for religious conversions. There has not been any conviction or evidence of forced religious conversions in the state or country.
Prashanth Jathanna State president of Bharathiya Christa Okkuta, UFC chairman and Belagavi Bishop Rev Dr Derrick Fernandes, UFC vice president Fr Nandakumar, MLC Ivan D’Souza, MLA K J George, Sathish Jarakiholi, leaders from Bharathiya Christa Okkuta Peter Danthi, Gladson Karkada, John Paul, Rajshekar, Soloman and others were present.