12/20/2021: The purpose of such laws is to give state protection for perpetrators of violence in society On paper, Article 25 of the Constitution guarantees everyone the right to profess, practise and propagate their relgion. This is subject to two kinds of restrictions — the laws regulating or restricting the secular aspects of religious practices, and the state regulating the religious practices themselves in the interests of public order, morality, health, and specific to Hindus, social welfare and reform. Constitutionally, one can choose one’s religion or choose none at any point of time in one’s life. The Constitution doesn’t say one is free to practise only one’s birth religion (or worse, only one state-mandated religion). So where do “anti-conversion laws” such as the one currently being contemplated by the Karnataka government fit in? Anti-conversion laws in India are not particularly new. Their history goes back to even pre-Independence days but post-Independence, Odisha had the first in 1967. The motivation behind this law was to check Christian missionaries in states with large tribal populations. Somewhat ironically titled the ‘Orissa Freedom of Religion Act, 1967’, the law prohibited “forcible conversion” and also mandated that anyone choosing to convert out of the faith they had been
ANALYSIS: December 1, 2021: As of 31 October 2021, Karnataka ranks fourth in the country for its targeted violence against Christians Once upon a time, say, up to the turn of the century, Bangalore city was known as the ‘Catholic Capital of India’. It was also known as the cleanest city in India, and its tree-lined roads were an envy of the country. And Karnataka was just getting to be known as the gateway to south India for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS). As of 31 October 2021, Karnataka ranks fourth in the country for its targeted violence against Christians. Of the 320 or so cases recorded by the United Christian forum, the Evangelical Fellowship of India and Persecution Relief, Uttar Pradesh topped with 99, Madhya Pradesh had 45, Chhattisgarh recorded 39, and Karnataka 23. Orissa, which had in 2008 witnessed the most vicious pogrom against the community ever, had 15 cases. National capital Delhi recorded four. Bengal had a near clean record, with one case. Karnataka is Simmering: Bangalore city has been the scene of protests by a very concerned, almost frightened, Christian community, which fears that the BJP government’s plan to bring an anti-conversion law on the
Read the original full article in FRONTLINE INDIA here. The Following is excerpts from the original article published in FRONTLINE Magazine: According to data available with the United Christian Forum (UCF) helpline, 305 such incidents have been reported this year in India. Uttar Pradesh fares the worst, with cases reported from cities and towns as diverse as Varanasi, the Prime Minister’s constituency, Prayagraj (Allahabad), Noida, Ayodhya, Rampur, Bahraich and Lakhimpur Kheri. The most recent of these attacks have been in Mau district in Uttar Pradesh and Roorkee in Uttarakhand. Said the activist John Dayal: “The common factor in Uttar Pradesh is that the anti-conversion law for Muslims includes Christians too. People come to churches wielding lathis, accompanied by a local photographer and videographer and often by the police. They disrupt the prayer service, beat up the pastor, and if it is in a building, they attack the building, desecrate the Bible, etc. As in Roorkee. The police are almost always mute witnesses although in Roorkee they did take action because the local people also acted. Even if the police register a case against the Bajrang Dal or the Hindutva brigade, a case is also filed against the victims, including pastors. The victim is
11/17/2021 – On Sunday morning, October 10, Vijendra Prasad was playing the Dolluck, an Indian leather instrument, as he joined 70 other Christians in singing worship songs in India’s Uttar Pradesh state. The worship music suddenly stopped when a mob of enraged Hindu nationalists burst into the hall and began yelling. The mob accused the Christians, including Prasad, of engaging in illegal religious conversions and began a physical assault. Following the attack, seven Christians from the congregation were arrested and sent to jail for violating Uttar Pradesh’s anti-conversion law. International Christian Concern (ICC) recently interviewed Prasad, age 46, to follow up on the attack and the false forced conversion accusation that was leveled against him. Because of this false accusation, Prasad, along with his wife and son, spent two weeks in the Central Jail in Mau. “Neither have I heard of nor attended a dharmantharan (conversion) ceremony,” Prasad told ICC. “Seven years ago, in 2014, I was on my death bed and was taken to several hospitals. At last, the doctors in Lucknow told me that they were going to amputate my leg, but they said this would not guarantee I would survive.” “I was brought home and lost all hope,” Prasad continued.
Social media memes have captured the common mind more than the carefully clicked formal photographs showing Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi embracing Pope Francis when the two met in the Vatican for a 55-minute meeting last week. The prime minister’s office and the captive media are hoping the photographs will portray the warmth of the Catholic pontiff for the visiting Indian premier, who is projected as the “Hindu Hridaya Samrat” or “Emperor who rules the heart of [Hindu] Indians.” The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in turn hopes the half a dozen colorful pictures will help sway Christian votes in the elections early next year to the state assemblies of Goa on the west coast and Manipur in the northeastern hills. Alas, the first of the two most viral memes splices an old photograph of Adolf Hitler with Pope Pius XII with the Modi-Francis visual, while the second shows the Indian premier in the vestments and mitre of a Catholic bishop. No captions were needed. In multilingual India, civil society activists wanted them to reach out far and wide. Other than in Kerala, whose hierarchy had been in the lead in failed negotiations over six years for a papal visit to India, the meeting
Communal violence and abuse inflicted by Hindutva groups is on the rise in Karnataka. In a span of two months the state has witnessed the brutal decapitation of Arbaz Mullah in Belagavi, the assault on an Urdu journalist covering temple demolition in Nanjangud and vandalization of a Muslim-owned mutton shop, among many others. The assailants’ reasons for the assaults and mistreatment range from spotting an interaction between two people of different faiths to opening of a meat shop when a temple festival is underway. As these occurrences increase in number, The Quint has compiled a list of the 10 recent events of communal violence and disharmony committed by Hindutva outfits in Karnataka. Do Assailants Enjoy Impunity? The alleged perpetrators from the saffron brigade seem to be enjoying protection from members of the government. When a viral video, from Bengaluru, of two Muslim men assaulting a Hindu man for riding with his Muslim colleague reached Basavaraj Bommai, chief minister of Karnataka, he declared that his “government deals with such incidents with an iron hand.” But on the other hand, while speaking about the incident where Hindutva extremists ambushed a car in Moodbidri, near Mangaluru, and allegedly threatened to burn the passengers for travelling with a
THE TRANSFORMATION IS PRODUCING A NEW ELITE WHO ARE PRO-HINDU AND PRO-HINDI BUT DETEST ENGLISH August 5 marks the second anniversary of the constitutional amendment initiated by the Narendra Modi government to take away the functional autonomy of Jammu and Kashmir, India’s only Muslim-majority state. A year later, on the same day in 2020, the prime minister laid the foundation stone for a grand Ram temple at Ayodhya on a plot of land where once stood the Babri mosque before its demolition by frenzied mobs of Hindus in 1992. The two events aren’t mere sociopolitical developments in the recent history of the country but can be seen as symbols of the latent but strong cultural transformation India has undergone ever since Modi became prime minister in 2014. This transformation has pitchforked a new elite who are basically provincial, pro-Hindu and pro-Hindi. They detest English and prefer the Hindi language, and proclaim their Hindu identity. The end result has been the rise of an unapologetic fanatic. “This is the new social order now. We may not see major upheaval or social destabilization. But in the name of anti-elitism what we have got is anti-intellectualism. More precisely it is anti-liberalism,” West Bengal-based social analyst Ramakanto Shanyal said. “The new
THE AGE-OLD DEBATE ON CONVERSION CONTINUES WITH THE SAME PASSION, TONE AND ARGUMENT EVEN TODAY An upper-caste Hindu boy, Narayan Sesadri Parlikar, joined a school run by the Church of Scotland in Bombay way back in 1838. Five years later in 1843, he converted to become a Christian. The Bombay Courier, the leading English daily of the time, published a column-length story on Parlikar’s conversion, triggering a major upheaval among the city's upper-caste Hindu society. The day after his conversion, the outraged members of the Brahmin priestly caste to whom the boy belonged, passed a resolution censuring the event. “The missionaries of Christian faith … distribute books on their dharma (religion). In order to facilitate their efforts, they have established schools. For the sake of education, Hindu boys join their schools. The boys are immature in their understanding of Hindu dharma. Their minds become confused, and many have been converted to Christianity,” the resolution said. The 19th-century debate on religious conversion continues with the same passion, tone, and argument even today. The parties in the debate haven’t progressed much in understanding each other’s claims on the contentious issue of conversion that keeps surfacing in politics, media and courts. Those who want to outlaw conversion argue that