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Protest rally taken out in Bengaluru against anti-conversion Bill

Published : Dec 23, 2021 14:13 IST T+T-
At the protest rally against the anti-conversion Bill in Bengaluru on December 22.

At the protest rally against the anti-conversion Bill in Bengaluru on December 22.

Following the tabling of the Karnataka Protection of Right to Freedom of Religion Bill, 2021, or the anti-conversion Bill as it is popularly known, in the State’s Legislative Assembly, a massive protest rally was organised in Bengaluru’s Freedom Park on December 22. Apart from minority religious organisations, a large contingent of civil society activists and students also participated in the protest. The Bill has stringent provisions for forced or induced conversions.

Many of the protesters expressed their apprehension that the Bill would penalise and restrict the fundamental choice of a person to follow the religion of his or her choice. Speaking at the protest, Dr Siddangouda Patil, Communist Party of India leader, said that “The BJP [Bharatiya Janata Party] is bringing in such laws to distract attention from pressing issues such as widespread hunger and unemployment.”

Peter Machado, the Archbishop of Bengaluru, also participated in the protest. Machado said: “Article 25 of the Constitution provides every Indian with the right to freedom of religion, but this Bill is attacking that fundamental right. Even though we [Christian representatives] met each of the 224 MLAs in the State and explained this, the Bill has been tabled. The State government has given us this shocking gift for Christmas.”

Debate on the controversial Bill is expected to be carried out today in the ongoing Legislative Assembly session in Belagavi. The Indian National Congress and the Janata Dal (Secular) [JD (S)] have decided to oppose the passage of the Bill. Siddaramaiah of the Congress, Leader of the Opposition and former Chief Minister, said: “The BJP government is promulgating laws beyond the purview of the Constitution.” Former Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy of the JD (S) also said that his party will not support the Bill in the Legislative Council where the BJP does not have a majority.