01/09/2020 India (International Christian Concern) – The state government of Karnataka, led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), is the latest to announce their intention to enact an anti-conversion law under the pretext of combating what BJP legislatures claim is a “Love Jihad”. Religious minorities in Karnataka fear the enactment of the controversial law will instigate more anti-minority violence in the state.
On Wednesday, January 6, Karnataka’s Minority Welfare and Textiles Minister Shrimant Balasaheb Patil claimed the state government would soon be enacting a “Love Jihad Act” to prevent forcible conversions.
“This is a very huge subject involving many aspects,” Patil told reporters. “Therefore, various department are trying to elicit opinions through consultation with experts. At present, the legal department if deliberating about his with experts.”
In November 2020, the BJP-led government of Uttar Pradesh enacted a similar anti-conversion law through executive action. Since then, four other BJP-led states, including Karnataka, have declared their intention to enact similar laws.
Radical Hindu nationalists have used the specter of fraudulent religious conversions to Christianity and Islam as justification to pass laws limiting religious freedom. According to these nationalists, Indian Christians and Muslims are accused of converting Hindus to Christianity and Islam in mass by fraudulent means.
In states where similar anti-conversion laws are currently enacted, including Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, and Uttrakhand, they are widely abused. Radical nationalists abuse these laws by falsely accusing Christians of forcefully converting individuals to Christianity to justify harassment and assault. Local police often overlook violence perpetrated against Christians due to the false accusation of forced conversions.
To date, no individual has been convicted of forced conversions in India. This is in spite of the fact that some of the anti-conversion laws have been on the books since 1967.
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