The legislative committee on backward classes and minorities welfare in Karnataka has ordered a survey of authorised and unauthorised churches, their priests and registering cases wherever complaints arose regarding forcible religious conversion.
"We have asked the district authorities to furnish a detailed report on the number of authorised and unauthorised churches and Christian priests," Gulihatti Shekhar, a member of the committee, told PTI on Friday.
Shekhar, the Hosadurga BJP MLA, had chaired the meeting on Wednesday in absence of the committee chairperson Dinakar Keshav Shetty.
The instruction was given to the district authorities, especially Yadgir, Chidradurga and Vijayapura districts where religious conversions are allegedly rampant.
"We have also instructed police to accompany the officials during survey as the officials were attacked on many occasions," the BJP MLA said.
Also, a direction was given to the district authorities to register a case whenever a complaint regarding religious conversion was made.
"Till now those who lodged complaints against religious conversion were booked but we have asked police to register a case on receiving complaints and conduct a fair inquiry," Shekhar said.
The third point of the meeting was to deny double benefit to those scheduled caste people who have converted to Christianity.
"You cannot avail the benefit of SC and also a minority. You can have only one," Shekhar added.
He cited the instance of a woman from Bovi community, who has become a Christian. She contested the Panchayat elections on a SC ticket, won it and became the Panchayat president.
The woman is availing the benefits given to the scheduled caste as well as minorities.
"Due to these practices, the actual scheduled caste people are not getting the benefits," Shekhar explained.
The BJP MLA also claimed that religious conversion was rampant among the socially weaker sections, especially Bovi and Lamani communities.
Congress MLC P R Ramesh had pointed out in the meeting that the constitutional provisions do not restrict anyone from professing any religion or opting for the faith of their choice.
"I told the members that if they want it these practices to stop, then they should first strengthen Hinduism and also bring an amendment to the Constitution," Ramesh told PTI.