12/01/2021 India (International Christian Concern) – According to The New Indian Express, an investigation into claims of forced conversions in India’s Karnataka state have found no instances of forced conversion. Instead, the investigation, which interviewed more than 40 families, found that all had converted to Christianity of their own will.
In Karnataka, the issue of religious conversion has become a controversial issue. Members of the BJP-led government in Karnataka have claimed that forced conversions to Christianity are rampant in the state and an anti-conversion law must be enacted.
Gulihatti Shekhar, a BJP MLA, claimed that many people, including his own mother, had been forcefully converted to Christianity in his district. Following this claim, the local administration of Shekhar’s district investigated the MLA’s claim, interviewing 46 Christian families from two villages.
“The families told us that nobody forced them, and they are happy and have a peace of mind since they converted to Christianity,” Y Thippeswamy, the local tahsildar, told The New Indian Express. “When we asked about reports of some people luring them to accept Christianity, the families rubbished those reports.”
Hindu nationalists often used false claims of mass illegal conversions to minority faiths to justify the passage of laws that limit religious freedom. Most of these false narratives target India’s Christian and Muslim communities, instigating street level violence against churches and mosques.
While Karnataka has not enacted an anti-conversion law, many radical Hindu nationalists on the ground are acting as if the law already exists. International Christian Concern (ICC) has documented an increase in attacks on Christians across Karnataka and this has many concerned about what will happen when the anti-conversion law is enacted.
In states where similar anti-conversion laws are enacted, including Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, and Uttarakhand, they are widely abused. Radical nationalists falsely accuse Christians of forcefully converting individuals to Christianity to justify harassment and assault. Local police often overlook violence perpetrated against Christians due to false accusations of forced conversion.
To date, no individual has been convicted of forced conversion in India. This is despite of the fact that some of the anti-conversion laws have been in force since 1967.
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