Karnataka Home Minister Says 'Both Sides to Blame' for Increased Attacks on Christians

The minister said that Christians were being attacked because they were attempting to forcefully convert people of other religions, hours after the Karnataka assembly pushed through a controversial 'anti-conversion' law.

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New Delhi: Amidst increasing cases of attacks on Christians being reported in Karnataka, the state’s home minister Araga Jnanendra on Thursday, December 23, seemed to ascribe part of the blame to the Christians themselves, saying that there was a “mistake on both sides,” NDTV reported.

“If they were not doing forceful conversion, then they wouldn’t be stopping them and creating ruckus,” Jnanendra said, responding to a question on the increasing number of attacks on Christian prayer meets and religious gatherings.

The Karnataka minister further said that the state government had data to prove increasing instances of these alleged forced conversions but, upon further questioning, revealed that this data is on the basis of allegations and not registered cases.

After claiming that there had been deaths by suicide due to forced conversions, Jnanendra said that complaints related to the same were not being registered by the police since there was no legislation under which such charges could be filed.

The minister’s remarks came on the same day that the Karnataka assembly passed the Karnataka Protection of Right to Freedom of Religion Bill, 2021, also known as the Karnataka anti-conversion bill, amid widespread protests and din among the opposition of the house.

Also read: Despite Mounting Criticism, Karnataka Assembly Passes Anti-Conversion Bill

Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh, all states with BJP governments, have earlier passed similar legislations with clear communal undertones. 

While ruling party officials insist that the Bill is aimed to stop forced conversions to and from all religions, members of the Christian community as well as opposition leaders insist that the legislation is clearly targeting Christians and has led to increased violence against the community.

The Bill was proposed by the Karnataka cabinet in September and since then, at least seven instances of attacks on Christians have been reported in the state. The incidents range from mobs vandalising churches to Christian religious books being burnt

Also read: Over 300 Instances of Violence Against Christians Were Reported in Nine Months of 2021: Report

On Thursday itself, a grotto of Saint Anthony in Karnataka’s Chikkaballapur was vandalised in the wee hours of the morning after a chunk of granite was hurled at it by unknown persons. An FIR has been registered under IPC Section 295 (defiling a place of worship), the Telegraph reported