Reacting to the Karnataka government’s decision to table an anti-conversion bill during the Winter session of the Assembly, Congress MLC CM Ibrahim questioned whether it would file a case against Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar. On October 14, 1956, Ambedkar had converted to Buddhism along with lakhs of his followers. Speaking to the media in Belagavi, Ibrahim stressed that conversion cannot be forced and cited the example of former Uttar Pradesh Shia Waqf Board chairman Waseem Rizvi who recently embraced Hinduism.
Congress leader CM Ibrahim remarked, “Conversion can’t be forced. Babasaheb Ambedkar converted to Buddhism. Will you file a case against him? Did he (convert) after taking permission from the Deputy Commissioner? You simply don’t know what conversion is. Now a Muslim has become a Tyagi. This happened because it was his wish. So, should I go outside his house and outrage over why a Muslim has (converted)? If he has gone, let him go”. Congress has vowed to oppose this bill tooth and nail.
#WATCH | Belagavi, Karnataka: Conversion can’t be forced. BR Ambedkar converted to Buddhism, would you file a case against him? (Wasim) Rizvi converted to Tyagi, it’s his wish…, should I go outside his house for this?: Congress MLC CM Ibrahim on anti-conversion bill pic.twitter.com/16KXSqrTvE — ANI (@ANI) December 13, 2021
BJP’s push for anti-conversion law
Interacting with the media on December 12, Karnataka CM Basavaraj Bommai clarified that this bill was only aimed at preventing religious conversions by inducements. Moreover, he assured that there would be no hindrance to the worship and religious practices of people belonging to any religion. At the same time, Bommai stressed, “The poor and the vulnerable sections of society should not fall for it. Conversions bring problems within the families. So, the bill is being proposed”.
On Monday, Bengaluru Archbishop Peter Machado commented, “I’m sad that CM has stated that he’ll be going ahead with the tabling of the anti-conversion bill and that Christians need not be afraid. It’s a little sarcastic on his part because he knows the dangers we’re going through. A priest was attacked in Belagavi”. He also alleged that Bibles were burnt in the previous two days in north Karnataka.
So far, BJP-ruled governments in Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh have already passed stringent laws banning forced conversion. For instance, an individual who forcefully marries a girl for the sheer purpose of converting her religion can face a punishment of up to 10 years in jail under the Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Religious Act. However, the Gujarat government recently faced a setback as the Gujarat HC stayed certain provisions of The Gujarat Freedom of Religion (Amendment) Act, 2021. Meanwhile, the Centre has ruled out enacting a nationwide anti-conversion law.