The Congress-led Karnataka government has decided to scrap the Karnataka Protection of Right to Freedom of Religion Act 2022, or the law against religious conversions, introduced by the former BJP-led government.
According to the state’s Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister H K Patil, “changes made to the anti-conversion Bill will be repealed in the upcoming assembly session, starting July 5.”
The BJP responded strongly to the decision made by the Congress government. C T Ravi, the BJP national general secretary, expressed strong opposition, stating that the withdrawal of the law was influenced by what he referred to as the “conversion mafia.” Ravi further claimed that this decision would have negative consequences for Hindus and went on to label the Congress party as “the new Muslim league.”
The law against religious conversions prohibited unlawful conversions from one religion to another by misinterpretation, force, undue influence, allurement, coercion, or any unlawful means. The Karnataka legislative assembly passed the controversial bill in December 2021.
Any contravention of the section 3 of the bill was punishable with imprisonment for a term of three years, which could extend to five years, and a fine ₹25,000.
According to the bill it was mandatory for a person who converts to another religion to declare their intention before the conversion and at least thirty days in advance to the concerned District Magistrate or Additional District Magistrate.
The new Congress government in Karnataka is also set to remove the ban on hijab in the state. In addition, the Karnataka Cabinet has granted its approval to eliminate modifications made to school textbooks during the tenure of the BJP government. This decision entails the exclusion of teachings concerning the RSS founder K B Hedgewar, the Hindutva ideologue V D Savarkar, and lessons authored by Chakravarthy Sulibele. Madhu Bangaprappa, the Minister for School Education and Literacy, stated that this action aligns with a pledge made in the Congress party’s manifesto.
The state cabinet has also decided to revoke the Karnataka Agricultural Produce Marketing (Regulation and Development) (Amendment) Act that allowed private entities to directly trade with farmers, thereby curtailing the powers of the APMCs.