Members of a right-wing Hindutva group allegedly assaulted and robbed a family accusing them of converting their neighbours to Christianity, in Belagavi district of Karnataka. The attack is the latest in a series of attacks over allegations of ‘forced’ conversions. The district police have booked seven people in the case.
The incident occurred on the afternoon of December 29 in Mudalagi in Belagavi. At the time, Pastor Akshaykumar Karaganvi was holding prayers at his residence when members of Hindutva groups barged into the house and asked them to stop their prayers. In the altercation that followed, the men accused the family of converting their neighbours, and beat them up.
The pastor's spouse, Kavita, stated in her complaint to the police that the men splashed hot curry on Bharati Vyapari, one of the victims of the attack. She is being treated for burns at a hospital in Belagavi. The complaint stated that another woman Mahadevi Jogi was also attacked when the family tried to pacify the men. Kavita said that the prayer was something that the family did every year after Christmas.
A case was registered at the Ghataprabha police station and the accused men Shivanand Shivalingappa, Ramesh Dandapur, Parasappa Babu, Fakirappa Bagewadi, Krishna Kantikar, Chatan Rajendra and Mahantesh Basalingappa. The men are all residents of Mudalagi in Belagavi. They were charged under, and under sections 143 (rioting), 448 (trespassing), 323 (voluntarily causing hurt), 392 (robbery), 506 (criminal intimidation), and the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.
The attack comes just days after a similar attack in Tumakuru district's Kunigal where women fought off members of the Hindutva group Bajrang Da,l who barged into their house accusing the family of conversion.
A week ago, Christmas celebrations in a school in Mandya's Pandavapura taluk were disrupted by members of Hindutva groups who demanded that the teachers stop the festivities. In Bagalkote, the Karnataka education department shut down a school over allegations that children were served non-veg food during Christmas celebrations. The order was revoked when it came to the notice of the Commissioner of Public Instruction R Vishal.
The attacks come at a time when the ruling BJP in Karnataka has passed an anti-conversion Bill in the state Assembly. The Karnataka Protection of Right to Freedom of Religion Bill, 2021, was cleared by the Karnataka Cabinet on December 20. The punishment for those found guilty of forceful conversion in this Bill is more stringent than similar laws passed in BJP-ruled Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh.