Four arrested over ‘forced conversions’ in Karnataka

Karnataka has been seeing a surge in allegations of forced religious conversions, moral policing and hate crimes in recent times.
Last month, Karnataka chief minister Basavaraj Bommai said his government was considering a law to ban forced religious conversions. (AFP)
Last month, Karnataka chief minister Basavaraj Bommai said his government was considering a law to ban forced religious conversions. (AFP)
Updated on Oct 12, 2021 02:02 AM IST
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ByHT Correspondent, Bengaluru

Four people have been arrested in Karnataka’s Udupi district after a complaint was registered against them for allegedly converting people into Christianity, police said on Monday.

“There was a complaint that four people were converting people from lower castes into Christianity,” a police officer of Kota precinct in Kundapura taluk of Udupi district. “We went there, and based on our preliminary investigation, an FIR (first information report) has been filed.”

The incident reportedly took place on Sunday night. The four accused — Prakash, Jyothi, Ravichandra and Manohar — have been named in the FIR, the officer said, declining to be named. A court on Monday sent them to judicial custody for 15 days.

The southern state has been seeing a surge in allegations of forced religious conversions, moral policing and hate crimes in recent times.

On Sunday night, members of a right-wing Hindu organisation barged into the home of the accused who are all said to be part of the same household and confronted them in front of police personnel, people aware of the Kundapura incident said on condition of anonymity.

A purported video of the incident was widely circulated on social media, in which one of the accused in the case, Jyothi, is seen arguing with the group that entered their home forcibly. HT cannot independently verify the authenticity of the video.

Last month, Karnataka chief minister Basavaraj Bommai said his government was considering a law to ban forced religious conversions.

“Such things (conversions) are happening here and there. A couple of days ago, I gave appropriate directions to district administrations not to allow any religious conversion through inducement or by force, as it is illegal,” Bommai said on September 28.

Bommai’s statement came days after the issue was raised by Goolihatti D Shekar, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) legislator from Hosadurga, in the monsoon session of the state assembly in September.

Shekar said there has been heightened activity around conversions and his own mother has been converted after she was “brainwashed”.

On Sunday evening, at least four families from a community classified as an extremely backward caste, who had converted to Christianity, embraced Hinduism at Hosadurga taluka in Chitradurga district.

“Four families came to a temple and said they will continue in our religion, follow our culture and traditions,” Shekar said on Sunday. “They are from Maruthi Nagar and from Sudugadu Sidda community.”

Several BJP-ruled states like Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh have enacted laws to prevent forcible religious conversions. In recent times, several right-wing Hindu outfits have accused Christian missionaries of luring people from backward classes to convert into Christianity, a claim denied by churches.

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Friday, December 03, 2021