Members of Hindu Jagrana Vedike had barged into a prayer hall in Karkala of Udupi district alleging that people were being lured into religious conversion at the centre.

Members of a Hindutva group gathered togetherRepresentative Image/ PTI
news Crime Saturday, September 11, 2021 - 12:43

Members of a Hindu Jagrana Vedike, a Hindutva group, barged into Pragathi Church in Udupi, Karnataka, on September 10, alleging that people are being illegally converted there, stated reports. According to a report in a local publication, the Hindu Jagrana Vedike (HJV) members visited the Chirstian prayer centre in Karkala town while the prayer was underway, and caused a commotion. A video of the incident shows people in white and saffron clothes barging into a corridor and arguing loudly. The situation calmed only after the police came to the location.

The members of the Hindutva organisation alleged while speaking to the media that conversions were taking place at the centre for a long time. According to TNIE, they alleged that having over 35 Hindu persons in the church was an attempt to convert them by ‚Äúallurement.‚ÄĚ After the scuffle, where the HJV members allegedly misbehaved with a few women during the argument, a case was registered against them under sections 143 (unlawful assembly), 147 (punishment for rioting), 149 (punishment for those attending unlawful assembly), 504 (intentional insults), 506 (criminal intimidation), 323 (voluntarily causing hurt) and 354 (assault or force against women) of the Indian Penal Code. The complaint was made by a pastor named Benedict.

Prakash Kukkehalli, a leader of HJV, told the media that they had information pertaining to the alleged conversions for a long time and have been protesting against the same in the region. He said that since they had ‚Äúreliable‚ÄĚ information, they barged into the prayer centre and asserted that the police will have to look into the matter. He reportedly also questioned how, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, was the permit issued for a prayer meeting to be held at the centre.

Meanwhile, a local report quoted Benedict saying that they were only praying and people of other religions are also welcome to the same. He denied allegations of conversion and said that the HJV members suddenly rushed during prayer and caused a commotion. As per reports, there is a previous complaint against Benedict from July 15, 2021, as well, for organising prayer meetings with the motive of religious conversion. The police had reportedly warned him not to conduct religious meetings without prior permission then.

report in the Hindustan Times quoted the Superintendent of Police, N Vishnuvardhan saying that there were no casualties at the centre due to the commotion between the two groups. Vishnuvardhan told the media that they are verifying the complaints and will register FIRs. The SP clarified that the prayer hall did not have permission to hold any meeting either and that they will take appropriate action against both the groups.

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