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Karnataka Cabinet To Roll Back Anti-Conversion Law, Undo Textbook Changes

The government has also decided to do away with chapters on RSS ideologues in school textbooks.

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The state government in Karnataka has decided to repeal the controversial Protection of Right to Freedom of Religion Act, popularly called the anti-conversion act.

Sources told The Quint that Chief Minister Siddaramaiah's Cabinet made the decision in a meeting held on Thursday, 15 June. "The anti-conversion act was repealed as the Cabinet found it to be unconstitutional," a source told The Quint.

"The Bill brought by the BJP in 2022, will be repealed, and the Bill which we are bringing will be in accordance with the Constitution," Karnataka Law Minister HK Patil was quoted as saying by news agency PTI.

The bill had been introduced by the BJP government under Basavaraj Bommai, and was passed into law by the state Legislative Assembly in 2022.

In its manifesto for the 2023 Karnataka Assembly polls, Congress had promised that, if elected, it would repeal all “unjust and anti-people laws” passed by the BJP government.

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Hedgewar, Other RSS Ideologues To Go From Textbooks 

Apart from the anti-conversion act, the Cabinet has also decided to do away with the amendments made to the Agriculture Produce Market Committee (APMC) Act.

According to farmer organisations, the APMC Act threatened the life of traditional, government-run agricultural markets. The amendments were considered to be in line with the farm laws of the Centre, which were repealed in 2021.

The state government has also decided to do away with the textbook revisions introduced by the previous government.

"All chapters on RSS ideologues, including Hedgewar, will be removed. We do not want to teach students ideas of people who caused communal divide," the source said.

The BJP government had introduced several changes to textbooks, which were opposed fervently by Kannada authors, some of whom even asked the government to withdraw their work from textbooks in the state.

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'Commendable Step': Bengaluru Archbishop on Repeal

Welcoming the state government's decision to repeal the anti-conversion act, Archbishop of Bengaluru Peter Machado said, "The repeal of this controversial bill serves as a validation of the consistent stand taken by the Church and the Community."

"It reaffirms the belief that the legislation was not only detrimental to the individual's freedom of religion but also stood in direct contradiction to the provisions enshrined in Article 24 of the Indian Constitution," he added.

"The Anti-conversion Bill in Karnataka and in other states have increased the attacks on the Christians, as it encouraged the fringe elements to attack and cause harm to Christians. It fueled doubts, mistrust and disharmony between communities. I hope the other States will also follow suit and withdraw the bill."
Bengaluru Archbishop Peter Machado

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