‘Govt has data, should show us proof we did it’
Christians in Karnataka have demanded a committee be set up to probe the allegations of illegal conversion made against them.
Recently, Pramod Muthalik, chief of the Sri Ram Sene, accused Christians of vandalizing Hindu idols and converting people to Christianity forcibly.
The Karnataka Christian Social Welfare Association staged a protest on Wednesday, demanding the arrest of Muthalik and a ban on his outfit.
“Muthalik and other members of Sri Rama Sene have made remarks on the Christian committee… allegations of forced conversion. We want proper investigation of the matter. The government has enough data, so show us the proof of conversion,” said Harry D’Souza, president of the association.
About 150 people participated in the protest.
Rev. Father Cyril, the representative of Archbishop Peter Machado, informed The Observer: “There is no need for an anti-conversion Bill. The government has enough sanctions and law to stop forced conversions. It’s just an unnecessary attack on Christians. Innocents are the ones suffering. People are not able to follow the right to religion. The government has census data, Aadhaar data… show us the records.”
The Karnataka Right to Freedom of Religion Bill, 2021, commonly referred to as the anti-conversion Bill, prohibits conversion from one religion to another by misrepresentation, force, fraud, allurement or marriage.
Father Cyril added that communal disharmony in the state has increased since the BJP took office. “Why else would we be sitting here and protesting? We’d rather be at our homes or churches.”
The association accused the state government of not taking any action to protect the minorities. “In 2008, when churches were attacked in the state, Yediyurappa’s government made sure that all the churches were protected. We respect them for that. The current government is not taking any action to protect other communities. That should be their priority,” added Father Cyril.
Muthalik has also been involved in the Hanuman Chalisa-azaan controversy.
D’Souza said “If the government wants, they can just remove the loudspeakers. Why are they singing Hanuman Chalisa in the morning?”
The association has, in the past, filed complaints against right-wing groups and asked the government to take back the anti-conversion Bill.
The Observer reached out to Muthalik’s personal assistant, but he refused to comment on the matter.
In the past, Muthalik and other members of Sri Rama Sene have been in conflict with Christians and Muslims.