Police rush to open doors of the locked-up hall and ask group of people to go home
The police had to rush to a community hall after members of right wing organisations stormed into it complaining that a Christian pastor was trying to convert a group of Hindus in Belagavi on Sunday.
A team of police officers went to the community hall in Maratha Colony where a Christian pastor was conducting Sunday prayers, after a dozen members of the Sri Ram Sena disrupted the meeting. The Sri Ram Sena activists said that Pastor Lema Cherian was trying to convert Hindus of the area, by calling them to the hall in the name of Sunday prayers. The activists stopped the prayers and locked up the hall till the police arrived. The police opened the doors and asked the group members to go home.
Sri Ram Sena leader Ravikumar Kokitkar said that a group of pastors from outside the State is touring villages and towns in Belagavi district and is actively involved in converting gullible Hindus. He said that the church is luring poor Hindus by giving them money, sewing machines and bags full of rice and sugar. “The government has failed in curbing such illegal activities,’’ he told journalists.
Pastor Cherian, however, maintained that he is not engaged in conversion. “I was only leading a prayer meeting of interested persons and not attempting conversions. Such meetings are regularly held on Sundays. We have informed the local police about this meeting. We have not forced anyone to come here. People have come here on their own. We are not doing anything against the law. We are only practising the rituals of our religion, which is our fundamental right,’’ he said.
A police van is stationed near the hall. The situation is under control, the police said.
Also, the police registered a case against the pastor.
Meanwhile, Assistant Commissioner of Police D. Chandrappa said that the prayer meeting was illegal and was held without any prior permits. He also said that the meeting was held in the house of a private person and not in a public place.