Even as the recently passed Anti-Conversion Bill by the Karnataka government is embroiled in backlash, a church in Chikkaballapur district in southern Karnataka has been vandalised. A statue of St Anthony was damaged, and the priest of the church, Father Joseph Anthony Daniel, filed an FIR in this case.
The incident took place at the 160-year-old St Joseph's chapel in Susaipalya, at a distance of 65 km from the state capital Bengaluru.
As per an NDTV report, Father Joseph Anthony Daniel said, "I am very saddened to inform you that some unidentified people have broken the statue of St Anthony this morning. ... It was found broken with a huge stone. " He stated that the police had filed an FIR against unidentified people. As this video by reporter Maya Sharma shows, the glass protecting the statue was broken by unidentified people, and the statue was damaged.
Report Says Karnataka Third Highest State in Attacks on Christian Communities
According to a fact-finding report released earlier this month, Karnataka is ranked third among states with the highest number of attacks on Christian community members. The report is a joint initiative of the United Christian Forum, Association for Protection of Civil Rights, and United Against Hate. The fact-finding report indicated that Karnataka recorded the highest violence numbers against the Christian community among the south Indian States.
As per a report in The Hindu, the United Christian Forum's helpline registered 305 cases across India. Out of these 305 incidents, 66 were from Uttar Pradesh, 47 from Chhattisgarh, and 32 from Karnataka. The report recorded an increase in attacks in Karnataka in October and November as the ruling state government was considering the now-passed anti-conversion law.
The anti-conversion law is meant to prevent unlawful conversion from one religion to another through misrepresentation, undue influence, coercion, allurement, or any fraudulent means. However, the critics of the law state that it targets minorities in Karnataka and is much harsher than similar bills in other states.