In some cases, including notifying a relative of him.. Imprisonment and a fine for those who convert from his religion in an Indian state
Questions and answers
The campaigns of Hindus against converting some of them to Christianity or Islam began in 1920 under the slogan of “purification”. However, it has intensified since 1981 when 150 untouchable families in southern India converted to Islam to escape persecution at the hands of the high classes of Hindus.
New Delhi- The passage of the Parliament of the Indian state of “Karnataka”, a bill entitled “Preventing Religious Conversion” – which prohibits conversion from one religion to another for reasons including misleading, force, fraud, temptation or marriage – sparked great controversy in the Indian religious and human rights circles.
The new law gives the Indian government the power to stop the process of converting an individual to another religion in the event that one of his relatives reports to the police or files a lawsuit questioning the validity of his conversion to the new religion.
The law provides for penalties including a fine and imprisonment from 6 months to 10 years, in the event that it is proven that a person paid another to convert from his debt, in accordance with the cases stipulated by the law.
Dozens of members of the Christian community expressed their rejection of the new bill; And that was in a march held in Bangalore – the capital of Karnataka state – last Wednesday.
The law coincides with the escalation of the activity of extremist Hindu organizations against the conversion of Hindus to the Islamic and Christian religions, claiming that this is taking place within the framework of a scheme to convert them into a minority in their country, and that it is taking place with Western funding in relation to Christianity and with Gulf funding in relation to converting to Islam.
These organizations accuse Muslims of conspiring to convert India into an Islamic state again, through the conversion of religion and also by their natural reproduction, as the organizations claim that Muslims have become more than Hindus, contrary to official statements about the distribution of the population.
What is the new Karnataka law?
The law’s official name is the Karnataka Freedom of Religion Act 2021, but it is generally known as the “Prevention of Religious Conversion Act.” It aims to prevent Hindus from converting to Islam and Christianity, especially the marriage of Muslims and Christians to Hindu women.
It stipulates conditions for changing one’s religion; One of them is that the person wishing to do so submits an application a month before his desire to change religion, and the judge publishes the application so that any person can object to it within a month. In the event of any objection, an official commission is appointed to investigate the motives for the change of religion.
If the judge decides that the change of religion is illegal, he will refer the matter to the police to take the necessary measures. But if he finds that the request to change religion is legal, he will order the person to be reclassified in the government records, which will affect his bank loans and his current job and may be deprived of it, and he will have to pay the debts prematurely.
If it is proven that the change of religion took place for the purposes of marriage, free education or treatment, or the provision of a job, the authorities will fine him 25,000 rupees (the dollar = approximately 74 rupees) and imprison him from 3 to 5 years.
The fine and the prison term are doubled if the convert is a child, a woman, or a person belonging to one of the “sorted classes”; That is, if he was one of the “untouchables” (they are the ones who change their religion the most to escape persecution at the hands of the Hindus of the higher classes).
What is the penalty for organizing a religious change with a “group photo”?
Changing religion in a “group photo” means changing the religion of 3 or more people. Those responsible are subject to a fine of 100,000 rupees and imprisonment from 3 to 10 years. The accused will also have to pay a “compensation” to the one who would have changed his debt of half a million rupees, along with any other fine that the court may impose. Whoever re-commits this “crime” will be punished with a double fine and 5 years in prison.
The law also provides for the suspension of all government aid or assistance to any organization that converts religion. The accused will have to prove his innocence rather than the prosecution’s responsibility for it.
Is there opposition to the law?
The law is considered the worst of all similar laws enacted in India so far. It was condemned by public figures and opposition parties. Shiva Kumar, head of the Karnataka State Congress Party, said that if his party returned to power, it would take the initiative to abolish it.
About 40 organizations and associations took part in a large demonstration in Bangalore, the state capital, on December 24, denouncing the law.
Have other states passed similar laws?
Prior to the enactment of the Karnataka Act, the states of Arunachal Pradesh (1978), Gujarat (2003), Odisha (1967), Himachal Pradesh (2006), Madhya Pradesh (1968), Jharkhand (2017), Chhattis Garh (1968), and Uttar Pradesh (2021) Rajasthan (2006), Tamil Nadu (2002) and Uttarakhand (2018) enact similar laws. But the Karnataka law is considered the worst and most severe of these laws.
Is this law consistent with the secular Indian constitution?
On the contrary, the law collides with Article (25) of the Indian Constitution, which guarantees freedom of religion and the right of Indian citizens to spread their religion. These laws proceed from the assumption that women, untouchables, and tribal people do not have enough intellect to know what suits them, and they cannot change their religion unless there is some kind of temptation.
Is it a temporary law or will it continue?
The Hindu political movement has made this issue a priority. Mohan Bhagwat, head of RSS, the parent organization of the ruling Indian People’s Party, has sworn that in the coming years he will focus his efforts on inviting Hindus who have “strayed” to return to the Hindu home.
This program was formerly called “the purge” but now they describe it as “going home”; In other words, an Indian Muslim or Christian who embraces Hinduism returns to his old home. So the battle is long.
When did the campaigns start to prevent Hindus from changing their religion?
The campaigns of Hindus against converting some of them to Christianity or Islam are ancient. They began in 1920 under the slogan of “purification.” However, it has become noisy since 1981, when 150 untouchable families in southern India converted to Islam to escape persecution at the hands of the high classes of Hindus.
Under the influence of this pressure, several states have enacted laws prohibiting the conversion of Hindus to another religion on the pretext that this is done by financial temptation or by exploiting their naivety or to marry a Muslim or Christian to a Hindu. And claiming that Muslims are tempting Hindu women to change their religion in order to marry them within a scheme called “the jihad of love”, a term used by hard-liners of Hinduism.
What is the truth about restrictions on Christian and Islamic associations?
Narendra Modi’s government has revoked more than 25,000 permits to receive funds from abroad, as well as deregistering some of these organizations. This restriction extended to Christian, Islamic and human rights organizations. These organizations are subjected to security raids in various parts of India, accusing them of changing the Hindu religion.
Of the most prominent detainees accused of changing the Hindu religion?
The authorities in Uttar Pradesh alone have arrested 340 people in recent months, most of them activists in the call to the Islamic religion, including Dr. Omar Gautam, who was arrested last June, and Sheikh Kalim Siddiqui last September. Dozens of their assistants and relatives were arrested with them, and the charge of “terrorism” was added to the charges against them so that they would not be released on bail pending the continuation of their trials.