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'Undemocratic': Citizens Reject Karnataka's Anti-Conversion Bill

Activists, citizens and opposition in the state rejected the bill calling it 'unconstitutional'

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Karnataka Assembly passed the contentious 'Karnataka Protection of Right to Freedom of Religion Bill 2021', popularly known as the ‘anti-conversion Bill’, on 23 December, despite mounting criticism from several quarters in the state.

Rights activists, citizens and the opposition in the state rejected the bill, calling it "unconstitutional" and "a tool to embolden fringe groups".

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Speaking to The Quint, Fr. Joseph Xavier, Director, Indian Social Institute in Bengaluru said, "The bill is an attempt to destroy the constitutional guarantees. Violence against christians has increased after the government started talking about the bill and the state is complicit."

The Karnataka Assembly passed the bill amid a war of words, sparking sharp opposition from the Christian community members in Bengaluru.

"The anti-conversion bill has got nothing to do with conversion. It is all about control, suppression, bigotry and intolerance. It also curbs people’s rights to make choices," Bengaluru-based activist Brinda Adige said.

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"In accordance with Islam, it is said, for you is your religion, and for me is my religion," political analyst Dr Syed Asad Abbas told The Quint.

"This means that any form of forceful conversion will be considered null and void," he added.

The political analyst also questioned the timing of the bill, which was passed in the Assembly bill three days before Christmas.

Pointing out the technical errors in the bill, Dr Chaitanya Pradeep, professor at Christ University in Bengaluru, said: "In this bill, any individual can be a complainant. In case of other laws, ‘victims’ are complainants."

"Are we qualified to question other’s right to convert to another religion?" he asked.

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Another Bengaluru-based professor, Emmy Lawbei, said that the law aims to prohibit unlawful conversion but it could be used as a tool to harass minority groups.

"The presumption in the bill is that all conversions have a sinister motive behind them which is wrong," Advocate Manavi Atri said.

Adding to the voices opposing the bill, activist Dr Sylvia Karpagm told The Quint, "There have been incidents of mobs threatening people praying in churches, beating up pastors. Government is bringing a law to enable such groups, instead of protecting the minorities."

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Topics:  Bengaluru   KARNATAKA   Bill 

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