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Veerashaiva Mahasabha asks units to prepare for ‘ghar wapsi’

This comes while Karnataka Government is preparing to table an anti-conversion law

Bengaluru

Just as the State Government is preparing the ground for introduction of anti-conversion bill in Karnataka, Akhila Bharatha Veerashaiva Mahasabha has asked its units to report any case of conversion of its members and prepare for ‘ghar wapsi’ to bring such people back into the fold. The Mahasabha is a body representing Veerashaiva-Lingayats.

The timing of the letter by the Mahasabha president and veteran Congress leader Shamanur Shivashankarappa to all its taluk and district units comes amid opposition to the proposed bill from the Christian community. The Mahasabha, sources said, is shortly expected to urge the State Government to introduce a law to monitor and prevent ‘forcible or induced’ conversions.

The letter dated November 15, 2021, has asked office-bearers to be in constant touch with religious mutts and watch out for such moves. Programmes should be framed to bring those people ‘who were trapped under pressure’, the letter says, adding that it is a matter of grave concern that some community members have been ‘induced to convert’ to other religions, such as Christianity.

Defending the letter, Mahasabha secretary H.M. Renuka Prasanna said, “The letter has nothing to do with the government’s anti-conversion bill. We had received information from a couple of districts where a few such conversions have taken place. The units sought our advice to deal with such situations.”

The issue of conversion will be on the agenda during the Mahasabha’s working committee meeting in December, following which the Veerashaiva-Lingayat body is expected to submit a memorandum pressing for a bill on this issue. “We are opposed only to conversion based on inducements,” Mr. Prasanna said.

It is learnt that a survey by a committee headed by former IPS officer S.S. Pavate, about a decade ago, had identified around 250 persons from the community who had converted in Davangere, Gadag, Haveri and Chamarajanagar districts.

“The recent circular was issued after the Gadag and Chamarajanagar district units sought our advice. We will gather data from districts and submit a memorandum to the government with facts,” said Mr. Prasanna.

The Mahasabha has directed its units to file police complaints if they come across ‘forcible conversions’.

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