Karnataka State To Enact Anti-Conversion Law To Target Christians, Muslims
Yet another Indian state, Karnataka, has announced it will enact an anti-conversion law. The state’s Chief Minister, Basavaraj Bommai, made the announcement after meeting dozens of Hindu religious leaders who asked him to bring such a law to ban religious conversions. Talking to reporters afterwards, the Chief Minister invoked the bogey of forced conversions, saying that conversions through allurement were unconstitutional.
India’s anti-conversion laws in various states virtually criminalize voluntary conversion because they allow the police to claim, without substantiation and evidence, that such conversions were done through allurement. Every day, Christians and Muslims are being arrested on false charges of carrying out forced conversions, and the courts routinely send such people to prison. Thousands of Christians and Muslims across India are in prison arrested while merely praying at their homes or at their mosques and churches.
In recent months, members of Karnataka’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), to which India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi belongs, have called for such an anti-conversion law. Many Hindu right-wing leaders falsely claim that religious conversions in Karnataka have gotten out of control and a law must be enacted to regulate these conversions. While Karnataka is yet to enact such a law, many Hindu extremists behave as if the law already exists.
The International Christian Concern (ICC), a U.S.-based NGO, has documented an increase in attacks on Christians across Karnataka. 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.
Hindu Extremists Attack Dozens Of Christians in Chhattisgarh But Police Charge Victims
Hindu extremists attacked over 60 Christians in India’s Chhattisgarh state last month but not only did the police refuse to intervene, they filed criminal charges against the victims, sending at least one of them to jail, it was reported on November 13.
On October 17, a man named Anil Tandon held a dinner party with other members of The Pentecostal Mission Church in Oteband village in Durg district gathering for a thanksgiving meal for a healing he had received. The 90-minute event included worship, prayer and dining. According to Tandon, no one from the village had any objection to the gathering. But extremists belonging to the Dharma Jagaran Samanvay Vibhag, a local group, led by Jyoti Sharma stormed the event. This group is an affiliate of the Hindu extremist Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), which is a 96-year-old Nazi-inspired organization that aims to convert India into a Hindu country and turn its Christians and Muslims stateless.
“I tried to explain to them that it is a thanksgiving meeting, and that all the attendees are members of the TPM church, but they would not deter,” Tandon said. The extremists searched the belongings of the Christians, harassing many and physically assaulting others. Videos on social media show the mob forcing the Christians to line up as they searched their belongings and clothes, including women’s undergarments.
Tandon said the men slapped and assaulted him. They were taken to a village council meeting, where, too, they were beaten. Police arrived on the scene but only stood by and observed the harassment and assaults. The police later took the Christians to the Nandini Police Station and filed a complaint against Tandon and others for allegedly “injuring or defiling a place of worship.” The next day, the district judge sent Tandon to jail.
Across India attacks on Christians and their places of worship are being reported in greater number and severity. According to a report released by the United Christian Forum, over 300 incidents of Christian persecution were documented in India during January-September 2021.
Hyderabad City Restaurant Refuses Service To Women In Hijab
Several Muslim women in the Indian city of Hyderabad have claimed that an upscale city restaurant has long been refusing service to Muslim women in hijab, it was reported on November 13. According to Zareen (named changed), a 24-year-old woman, a bouncer at the restaurant — Sanctuary Bar and Kitchen in the Jubilee Hills neighborhood — told her that wearing a hijab and burqa was not allowed. “If you still enter, it could be a problem,” the bouncer told her and her friends when they visited it last year.
She and several other Muslim women recently shared their experiences on Instagram. They said this was a regular practice at the restaurant. The incident with Zareen occurred in October last year when she went to the restaurant with her friend and younger sister. When they ignored the bouncer’s comments and still went in, they were not served for 20 minutes.
A news reporter found that at least six women had faced Islamophobic hostility at the restaurant. The restaurant claimed it did not allow hijab-clad in the restaurant’s courtyard because liquor was served there which was “anyway prohibited in their religion.”