Religious nationalism India | 13 June 2023

India: New state government in Karnataka to review anti-conversion law

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As reported by BBC News on 13 May 2023, the Congress Party has taken over power from the radical Hindu BJP party after elections in the state of Karnataka. According to the Hindustan Times reporting on 25 May, the new Congress government intends to initiate a so-called “de-saffronization drive”; State Minister Priyank Kharge stated that “many orders and laws enforced under the previous BJP regime such as school textbook revisions and anti-conversion laws were against state interest and will be revised or withdrawn”. Details concerning the punishments for “unlawful conversion from one religion to another by misrepresentation, force, undue influence, coercion, allurement or by any fraudulent means” can be found in the report by the New Indian Express published on 18 May 2022, when the law came into effect.

An analyst working with World Watch Research comments: “Many Christians in Karnataka will be sighing with relief to hear that the new state government will be reviewing the controversial anti-conversion law (officially termed: ‘The Karnataka Right to Freedom of Religion Bill’). The BJP  introduced the proposal in 2021 and it has caused great difficulties for many pastors and Christians involved in missionary work through the false accusations made by Hindu groups wishing to stop the growth of the Christian church. For instance, as soon as the new law came into effect, an elderly Christian couple were arrested accused of forcefully converting over 1,000 Adivasis working in the coffee estates of Kodagu district (OpIndia, 21 May 2022). Many such false accusations and arrests have since taken place.”


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