+
 
For the best experience, open
m.thewire.in
on your mobile browser or Download our App.

Karnataka Legislative Panel Orders Survey of Churches to 'Check Forced Conversions'

The archbishop of Bengaluru Peter Machado said, "With this, our community places of worship as also pastors and sisters will be identified and may be unfairly targeted."
Karnataka legislative assembly in Bengaluru. Photo:  kla.kar.nic.in.

New Delhi: The legislative committee on backward classes and minority welfare in Karnataka has decided to conduct a survey of churches in the state in order to identify “unauthorised” ones and to “check forced religious conversions”, according to a Times of India report.

Various government authorities, including deputy commissioners of districts, have been instructed to conduct the survey. The specifics of the survey, including timeline and scope, are still awaited.

According to Gootihalli Shekar, BJP MLA from Hosadurga, who chaired the legislative committee meeting on October 13, the aim of the survey is to check “forced conversions”, which he claimed is “rampant in some parts of Karnataka”, including in his home district of Chitradurga.

While according to the backward classes and minorities affairs, home, revenue and law departments, there are about 1,790 churches in the state, the legislative committee has asked officials concerned to find out how many of them are “illegally established”. The committee further said, according to the home department, a total of 36 forced conversions cases were registered in the state recently.

“The menace of forced conversion is so rampant that the perpetrators are even converting residences into churches and Bible society. We need to find out the number of such establishments and unauthorised Christian priests and take action against them,” Times of India quoted MLA Shekar as saying.

He further added that churches and Bible societies that have not been registered and do not have the permission of the directorate of minorities welfare or minorities commission shall be treated as “unauthorised”.

The move, as expected, raised apprehensions among the Christian community which sees the real intent behind such an exercise is to “unfairly target” Christians in the state.

Stating that the exercise is “unnecessary”, archbishop of Bengaluru Peter Machado said, “With this, our community places of worship as also pastors and sisters will be identified and may be unfairly targeted. We are already hearing of such sporadic incidents in the north (India) and in Karnataka.”

Continuing further, he posed a few pertinent questions for Hindu fundamentalist outfits and the Karnataka government: ” If Christians are converting indiscriminately then why is the percentage of Christian population reducing regularly when compared to others? Why is the government interested in making surveys of religious personnel and places of worship of only this community? We are sad that Basavaraj Bommai succumbed to pressure from fundamentalist groups.”

×
facebook twitter