DH News Service, Mangalore:
Thousands of Christians staged road blockades in several parts of the city on Sunday, after suspected Bajrang Dal activists carried out a series of attacks on prayer halls in Dakshina Kannada, Udupi and Chikmagalur districts, alleging conversion...
Police resorted to caning to disperse the protesters, including nuns and women, in the evening near Milagres Hall complex, while a few people threw stones at the police. In the melee, some were hurt and a few vehicles damaged.
The district administration has clamped ban orders in these areas for three days, starting Sunday.
The places of worship which were attacked in Dakshina Kannada include Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration Monastery in Mangalore city, Christ Church at Kodikal near Mangalore, Believers Church of India at Puttur, Mahima Prathanalaya and Indian Pentecostal (both at Madanthyar in Belthangady taluk) and Bethesda Aradanalaya at Sullia.
The modus operandi of all the attacks was similar: a group of 20-25 persons barged into the prayer halls between 10 am and 10.30 am, damaged the furniture and desecrated the statues of Jesus Christ.
As news spread, Christians in Mangalore came onto the streets in large numbers and blocked roads till night. Union Minister Oscar Fernandes visited the protesters near Milagres in the evening.
When contacted, Special Branch Inspector Vinay Gaonkar said seven policemen had been injured and eight vehicles, including two belonging to the police, had been damaged. The police resorted to lathi-charge at Milagres and Thokkuttu to disperse the crowd.
Meanwhile, Bajrang Dal state convener Mahendra Kumar, speaking to mediapersons here, said the attack was targeted not on the Catholic churches but the New Life groups.
Alleging that New Life had been converting Hindus to Christianity, he said Bajrang Dal activists had observed the happenings in the prayer halls for the last three Sundays before conducting the attack.
A booklet, Satya Darshini, distributed in certain prayer halls, which allegedly hurt the religious sentiments of Hindus, is another reason for the attack, he said. Though he had told a private television channel in the morning that the Bajrang Dal had carried out the attacks and would continue to do so, later he said that the attacks were conducted by the locals and the Bajrang Dal gave them the external support.
In Udupi, miscreants arrived in three vehicles at around 10.20 am and attacked a New Life prayer hall behind the KSRTC bus stop and damaged the keyboard, piano and an overhead projector. Similar attacks were reported in the prayer halls of New Life Church at Shiroor near Baindoor and Mudur near Kollur. Security has been beefed up at the prayer halls following the attacks.
Speaking to Deccan Herald, Udupi SP Pravin Pawar said a case had been registered and teams formed to trace the miscreants. No one has been arrested so far, he added.
Three places of worship were attacked in Chikmagalur, while the police managed to abort an attempt on a church near Dantramakki.
Yavana Swami Church at Magodu village was attacked at 10.30 am and the miscreants assaulted Pastor Samiulla.
In Koppa taluk, Time and Paul Gospel Harvest prayer hall was ransacked by about 20 miscreants. Women and men, engaged in prayer, were also assaulted. Police have booked cases against 15 persons but none have been arrested.