The Indian state of Karnataka has ordered an investigation into Christian missionaries as it prepares to enact an anti-conversion law that will ban religious conversions in the area.
A report on the International Business Times said the state’s Backward Classes and Minorities Welfare Department made the decision during a meeting on Wednesday, October 13.
The report said Goolihatti Shekar, a Bharatiya Janata Party member of the legislative assembly, proposed the registration of Christian missionaries, claiming that 40 percent of churches in Karnataka are “unofficial.”
Members of the committee also reportedly proposed the withdrawal of government support for individuals who convert from Hinduism to Christianity.
BJP members of the Karnataka government have made recent statements supporting the enactment of an anti-conversion law, claiming that conversions to Christianity have gotten out of control.
“The government is studying laws implemented in this regard by the various state governments in the country,” Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai was quoted as saying by the report.
The report said that across India, Hindu nationalists use the reported mass conversions to Christianity and Islam as reason to enact laws limiting the religious freedom of minorities.
Christian religious leaders in India have criticized the passage of an anti-conversion law early this year in the state of Gujarat.
The religious leaders said the new law goes against the Indian Constitution that allows citizens to profess, practice, and propagate a religion of their choice.
Critics of the law called on the western Indian state government to abrogate the “Gujarat Freedom of Religion Act 2021.”
A report by the Catholic pontifical foundation Aid to the Church in Need said Gujarat, which enacted the law in 2003, amended the legislation to include stringent provisions for up to 10 years imprisonment and a fine of up to 500,000 Indian rupees (US$6750.
The nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP, Indian People’s Party) that rules the state amended the law for the purpose of checking the “love jihad,” mostly to target Muslim youths who allegedly feign love to marry girls from other religions and convert them to Islam.
The Hindu nationalists oppose Christianity and Islam because of their foreign origin and target their followers, accusing them of promoting religious conversion or eating beef, among other things, said the ACN report.
Christians form 2.3 percent and Muslims 14.2 percent of India’s population of 1.37 billion people.