Ganesh Babu, a Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) member, was arrested on January 29, Saturday night for harassing two nuns near Illuppur in Tamil Nadu’s Pudukkottai district, claiming that they were engaged in religious conversion. He snatched their mobile phones and two-wheeler. Ganesh was accompanied by 20 to 30 unidentified people, Illuppur police said.
The incident occurred on January 21 and Ganesh was arrested on Saturday and produced before a magistrate on Sunday and has been lodged in the Aranthangi sub jail. A case has been registered under sections 147 (punishment for rioting), 341 (punishment for wrongful restraint), 294(b) (obscenity), 387 (extortion) of the IPC and the Tamil Nadu Prohibition of Harassment of Women Act.
The nuns had been on the way to visit a pregnant acquaintance, when Ganesh and 20 to 30 others stopped them. They took away their mobile phones and two-wheeler, declaring that they were there to convert people to Christianity. The Illuppur police have clarified that this was not true. When the police were called to the location, the group initially denied waylaying and snatching the phones and two-wheeler, but later Ganesh promised that he would surrender both at the station the next day. After consistently failing to do so, he was taken into custody on Saturday night and charged, the police told TNM.
A group of men, some in saffron scarves, protested at Illuppur on Sunday demanding that Ganesh be released.
The incident comes in the wake of heightened right-wing agitation against Christians after the death of 17-year-old Thanjavur student Lavanya, which sparked unproven accusations of forced conversion at the school she was studying. Residents of Michaelpatti, where the school is located, handed over a written petition to the Thanjavur District Collector on Friday, January 28 complaining about “unidentified outsiders attempting to create communal disharmony” in the village. Earlier this month, a church inside a school in Coimbatore was vandalised. Three Hindu Munnani Katchi members were arrested in connection with the case.