Hundreds of Christians staged a demonstration on October 25 in the city of Hubballi, Karnataka state, India, in protest at the state’s proposed anti-conversion law and a recent attack on a church.
Hindutva extremists had forcibly entered Bairidevarkoppa Church on Sunday, October 17, to protest against alleged forced religious conversions. Several members of the congregation, including the pastor, sustained injuries in the incident.
The march by Christians began at St. Peter’s Church, Gadag Road, and culminated at the Kittur Chennamma Circle, a well-known landmark and traffic circle in the city center, where a demonstration was held. Finally, the protesters proceeded to demonstrate outside government buildings.
Sunil Mahade, president of the Dharwad District Christian Pastors and Leaders’ Alliance for Peace March, addressed the gathering, saying that there was no evidence to support unfounded accusations of forced conversions leveled at Christians. It is common in India for Christians involved in legitimate evangelism to be falsely accused of forcing individuals to convert to Christianity.
“We are Indians and we lead our lives according to the Constitution. Don’t make baseless allegations against us and victimize us,” he affirmed. He also challenged the validity of a survey announced by the government of Kanataka into Christian activity designed to prevent allegedly forced conversions to Christianity.
Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai confirmed last month that the state government intends to introduce a new anti-conversion law. If such a law is passed, Karnataka would be the 10th Indian state to criminalize conversions carried out through force, fraud or allurement.