Karnataka: RSS barges into child’s naming ceremony alleging religious conversion
Members of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) on Wednesday interrupted a child’s naming ceremony in Hubli district, alleging religious conversion. The incident was reported while the anti-conversion bill was passed by the Karnataka assembly on Thursday.
The incident took place in Koliwad village in the district, located around 400 km from capital Bengaluru. A group of RSS members allegedly barged into the house of Nilavwa Bhajantri on Wednesday night. The group interrupted a gathering of children and their parents. Following this “raid”, a pastor and a local resident were called in for questioning by police.
Nagaraja Gunjala, an RSS leader, told media that at least 10 conversions were reported in the village in the past few years and the pastor was trying to convert more people. “What is the need for teaching the bible at a naming ceremony? This is an attempt to convert and we will oppose,” he said.
HT could not verify the claim made by the RSS leader and even police said they couldn’t find any evidence supporting the activist’s claim.
The pastor was not available for the comment but in a statement given to police, he and guest presents have denied the allegations made by RSS workers. A day after the incident, on Thursday, police called both the RSS leader and the pastor for questioning. Both parties were let off after a discussion with police.
P Krishnakant, the superintendent of police, Hubli rural, said since no complaint was lodged by both parties as no FIR has been registered in the matter. “We have investigated the matter. We have not come across any evidence of religious conversion so far. We were informed about an attempt to conduct conversion, but it was found not to be true. The house owner has also given a statement stating the same,” said the officer.
When asked if any action has been taken again the RSS workers, the officer said there were no complaints filed and if any “cognisable matters” come to light action will be taken.
In another incident, Christmas celebrations at a school in Mandya district were interrupted by Hindutva activists on Thursday, alleging religious conversion. The mob barged into Nirmala English High School and College as the Christmas celebrations were underway. Officials of the school said the parent of one of the students had informed the right-wing groups that the school was preaching Christianity during the celebrations.
A video of the incident has gone viral on the social media on Friday. No police complaint has been registered so far.
On Wednesday, a 150-year-old church was allegedly vandalised by unidentified people in Chikkaballapur district, 65 km from Bengaluru. The miscreants vandalised the statue of St Antony, at St Joseph’s church, in Susaipalaya area. The incident came to light when a parishioner, who arrived for prayers at around 6 am, found the broken statue and informed the parish priest. In a complaint, the church authority said a large stone was found near the broken statue.
The incident came hours before the Karnataka legislative assembly passed the contentious “anti-conversion bill”, amid din, to prevent “unlawful conversions”. These attacks are also the latest in the spate of attacks on various Christian groups. Members of right-ring groups set ablaze Christian religious books alleging religious conversion by the church while a viral video purportedly showed a man chasing a priest with a machete earlier this month.
A viral video on social media last month showed members of the Bajrang Dal barging into a prayer hall and stopping a service mid-way in Hassan district. In a similar incident in September, a group of right-wing activists barged into a Christian prayer hall Karkala in Udupi district and allegedly attacked devotees while a prayer meeting was underway.
A fact-finding report by several civil society organisations earlier in December claimed that Karnataka was witnessing one of the highest incidents of attack against Christians due to the government’s “attitude”.
The report by United Christian Forum (UCF), Association for Protection of Civil Rights (APCR), and United Against Hate also claimed that Karnataka ranks third among states with the most number of attacks on the community and their places of worship in India. A separate report released by People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) last week documented 39 instances of attacks on Christians in the state this year.
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