Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai on Tuesday said that the state government is planning to enact a law banning forcible religious conversions, The Indian Express reported.
Bommai claimed that such conversions have become rampant. “I have directed the district administrations to not allow any religious conversion through inducement or by force as they are illegal,” he added.
The chief minister made the comments in response to a question from reporters about religious conversions in Yadgir district of Karnataka.
On Monday evening, the Karnataka Police arrested four people for allegedly attempting to force people into converting to Christianity in Yadgir’s Neelahalli village, The New Indian Express reported.
Bommai’s remarks about enacting a law against forced religious conversions came eight days after state Home Minister Araga Jnanendra made a similar statement in the Karnataka Assembly.
“We are planning to bring a bill,” Jnanendra said, according to ANI. “Some states have already brought the anti-conversion bill. We will study them and we will bring that bill.”
Bharatiya Janata Party MLA from Hosadurga, Goolihatti Shekhar, also said in the Assembly that religious conversions were rampant in the state, according to The Indian Express.
He claimed that 15,000 to 20,000 people, including his own mother, converted to Christianity in his constituency.
Another BJP MLA KG Bopiah alleged that foreign missionaries are carrying out such forced conversions systematically through some organisations in the region.
“Religious conversions have been controlled in Uttar Pradesh through a law and it will be the right step or else it will lead to disturbance of peace in society,” he said. “We have to take strong steps as it will affect society.”
In the past year, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh have passed laws banning forced religious conversions.
On August 19, the Gujarat High Court ordered a stay on several sections of the state’s law, including one that defined interfaith marriage as a reason for forceful conversion. The state government has said that it will approach the Supreme Court against the order