Tension prevailed in Maratha Colony in Karnataka's Belagavi district on Sunday, November 7, after Hindutva activists, reportedly belonging to the Sri Ram Sene, laid siege to a community hall alleging mass religious conversion. The protesters claimed that as many as 200 people, including women and children from rural backgrounds, were put up in the building on the pretext of mass prayers for the purpose of religious conversion. However, the police said that Sunday prayers are a routine occurrence at the building.
The police had to intervene to bring the situation under control. However, before the police reached the spot, many of those present in the building are said to have fled due to the presence of the Sri Ram Sene members. The angry protesters locked the remaining people in a room, and they were allowed to leave only after the police arrived.
The Hindu activists claimed that they had information that religious conversions take place in the building every Sunday on the pretext of mass prayers. Following the incident, about 20 policemen have been stationed near the building as a precautionary measure. Speaking to TNM, a police sub-inspector said that a prayer used to happen every Sunday at the spot.
According to a report in the Times of India, the police said that a Hindu man who was present in the hall at the time of the prayer filed a complaint alleging conversion. However, the pastor, identified as Lema Cherian, denied the allegations and told the newspaper that the Sunday prayers were a routine occurrence and no one was forced to take part in it.
Belagavi Police Commissioner K Thiyagarajan told TNM that an FIR has been registered against the pastor who was conducting the prayers. However, details of the FIR are yet to be made public. It is not known whether any action has been taken against the alleged Sri Ram Sene members. TNM has reached out to the police for more updates, and further details are awaited.