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K’taka assembly passes anti-conversion bill by voice vote amid loud opposition

By Saima Siddiqui 
Updated Date

New Delhi: Despite shout out from the opposition in the Assembly and several quarters in the society, the ruling BJP government in Karnataka passed the Protection of Right to Freedom of Religion Bill, 2021, commonly referred to as Anti-Conversion Bill, on Thursday by voice vote in the state legislative assembly. The bill still needs to be approved by the Legislative Council, where BJP doesn’t have a majority. 

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Amid stiff opposition to Anti-Conversion Bill, from the Congress and The JD(S), Karnataka Law Minister JC Madhu Swamy said that bill was first initiated by Congress’ former chief minister Siddaramaiah. However, the law minister assured that the bill will be constituted to protect all the religions and any forceful conversion from any community will be punishable.

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After the opposition attacked the ruling BJP by alleging that the bill is politically motivated and can trigger communal uproar in the state, the law minister denied the comments by responding, “Those are wrong assumptions.”

Pointing out the vulnerability of the SCs and STs conversion in the state, CM Basavaraj Bommai argued that the SC and ST population needed extra protection cover.

According to reports, Karnataka Minister Dr Ashwathnarayan said, “This was a much-awaited Bill. It will facilitate transparency and accountability. It is a forward-looking Bill that will address many challenges being currently faced. It will create harmony in the society.”

The bill was introduced by Home Minister Araga Jnanendra in the Assembly on Tuesday amidst a dramatic walkout staged by the Karnataka Congress leaders. The state’s party president DK Shivakumar tore the copy of the Bill before walking out of the assembly.

The Anti-Conversion Bill makes religious conversion a non-bailable offence with up to 10 years of imprisonment and up to Rs 1 lakh of penalty if proved to be guilty of forceful conversion, allurement or marriage, coercion.

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