Report blames Karnataka ‘government attitude’ for attacks on Christian community

Updated on Dec 06, 2021 12:35 AM IST

Since the proposal of law against religious conversions by chief minister Basavaraj Bommai and home minister Araga Gyanendra during the monsoon session of the state legislature, between September 13 and 24, there have been several instances of violence against churches and members of the community in the state.

Members of the Christian community participate in a silent protest against the Anti-Conversion bill proposed in the Winter Session of Karnataka Legislative Assembly, in Bengaluru on Saturday. (PTI)
Members of the Christian community participate in a silent protest against the Anti-Conversion bill proposed in the Winter Session of Karnataka Legislative Assembly, in Bengaluru on Saturday. (PTI)
ByHT Correspondent, Bengaluru

A day after people from the Christian community held protests over a probable law against religious conversions in Karnataka, the Association for Protection of Civil Rights (APCR) on Sunday said the state is witnessing one of the highest incidents of attacks against the community in the country due to the government’s “attitude”.

“Certain behaviour or certain utterances from the government, certain attitude from the government is the reason that this (attacks) is allowed and tolerated. This can go on and is sad for us,” Reverend Peter Machado, the Archbishop of Bengaluru said on Sunday.

Since the proposal of law against religious conversions by chief minister Basavaraj Bommai and home minister Araga Gyanendra during the monsoon session of the state legislature, between September 13 and 24, there have been several instances of violence against churches and members of the community in the state.

The APCR on Sunday said that there were 305 incidents of violence in the 273 days of 2021 between January and September in their report ‘Christians Under Attack in India”.

The data by APCR is based on the number of calls made to the United Christian Forum toll-free number. “September witnessed the highest number of incidents with 69, followed by 50 in August and 37 in January,” according to a statement.

The report added that between January and September Uttar Pradesh recorded the highest monthly incidents with 66, followed by Chattisgarh at 47. Karnataka recorded 32 incidents, among the top of the list in the country, the report added. APCR said that a total of 1,362 calls were received by the UCF helpline.

Machado said that earlier such incidents were reported from interior places where there were fewer members of the community and small churches.

“But to happen in Hubballi, Dharwad, Bengaluru means people are taking the law into their hands,” Machado said.

The issue of forcible conversions revived momentum after Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) legislator Goolihatti Shekar made a passionate appeal to stop the practice to which his mother, he claimed, also fell “victim”.

Shekar had said that his mother was among those in Chitradurga district who was “brainwashed” by the 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, and around 15,000-20,000 people in his constituency were possibly converted.

Shekar had presided over an event in which at least five families “were brought back” into the Hindu fold, including his mother--a practice that is commonly referred to as “Ghar Wapsi” on September 11.

HT, on October 15, had reported that the legislative committee on Backward Classes and Minorities Welfare ordered a survey of authorised and unauthorised Churches and their personnel.

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

On November 11, Machado had written to the Bommai government not to carry on with the survey, which would lead to further discrimination and that the proposed anti-conversion bill was “undesirable and discriminatory”.

“If the government puts the foot down and says that there is a law of the land in the country... there is a law in this place and therefore it should not go on and take place. Surely it will not happen,” Machado said.

States like Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand among others have introduced similar laws.

The home minister and at least two senior police officials could not be reached for comment on Sunday.

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