CHENNAI: Christian places of worship continue to be attacked in Dakshina Kannada and other parts of BJP-ruled Karnataka. In a new incident on Thursday morning, a 160-year-old St. Joseph’s Church was attacked and the statue of St. Anthony disfigured in the Chikkaballapur district, sources said.
More than a week ago, a pro-Hindu mob burned Christian religious books at Hanumanapalaya in Srinivasapur in Kolar district, alleging that they were being distributed among the local population by the Christian community.
In Hubballi some time ago a crowd entered a church and shouted slogans and chanted Hindu religious songs. Surprisingly, the pastor who lodged a complaint with the police was arrested for “insulting the religious feelings of any class”, reports the BBC.
A report by the Evangelical Fellowship of India (EFI) listed 39 cases of threats or violence against Christians from January to November this year in Karnataka, the BBC report added, adding that these include alleged attacks on pastors by members of right-wing Hindu groups. and even cases where they would have physically prevented them from organizing religious services.
The attacks come amid protests by civil society organizations against the Karnataka Freedom Right to Freedom Protection Bill 2021 tabled by the government during the current assembly session.
The president of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), Professor YJ Rajendra, reportedly said the bill violates article 25 of the constitution and violates constitutionally guaranteed rights to freedom of religion, privacy and dignity.
The bill, among other things, would empower the state to consider interfaith marriages involving conversion as “null & void”. The government, helped by the bill, intends to prohibit the conversion by “false declaration, force, seduction, fraudulent means or marriage”.
The bill would propose a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment for the forced conversion of people from Dalit and ST communities, minors and women to another religion.
Similar laws are said to be in effect in Arunachal Pradesh, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand and Uttarakhand.