Women fight off Hindutva vigilantes who disrupted Christmas prayers in Karnataka

Police in Kunigal have not taken up a case over the altercation.
Tumakuru woman
Tumakuru woman
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Women of a Dalit household in Tumakuru staved off an attack by a group of Hindutva vigilantes who barged into their house and tried to stop them from celebrating a Christmas event on Tuesday, December 28. A video of the incident which was shared widely shows the women refusing to be cowed down by the bullying and questioning the legitimacy of the men who barged into their house.

The police was eventually called in to the house. However, no case has been registered over the altercation. The incident took place in Bilidevalaya village in Tumakuru's Kunigal taluk on Tuesday evening around 7.30 pm. Raju P, the police inspector of Kunigal police station, said that there were complaints from both groups involved in the argument but no case was registered. "Police reached the spot immediately when we got a call and we spoke to both groups. The family was celebrating Christmas but few men have gone there and disrupted it. It was only an argument and there was no violence. We have not registered a case over this," police inspector Raju said.

Speaking to TNM, Ramu Bajarangi, a Bajrang Dal leader from Kunigal taluk in Tumakuru, said that a gram panchayat member in the village had noticed that the family of Ramachandra in his village had begun holding Christian prayers in their residence in the last one month. He alerted a group of men from the Bajrang Dal, a Hindutva group, who mobilised men and barged into the home of Ramachandra on Tuesday evening.

In the argument that followed, the mob of men asked the residents in Ramachandra's house about why they were celebrating Christmas. The residents in the house responded by saying they are Christian believers and there is nothing wrong in celebrating Christmas.

The mob of men then questioned the women in the house asking why they were not wearing sindhoor, which according to the men from the Bajrang Dal was a characteristic feature of a Hindu woman. Responding to this, Nandini, one of the women, pointed out that who they pray to is their prerogative and that it doesn't concern the Bajrang Dal. They told the men that they were wearing thaalis and that there is nothing wrong in celebrating Christmas at home. "Who are you to question? Why do you think we wear thali?" asked one of the women in the house.

The argument continued with the men asking why the residents of the house had converted to Christianity. To this question, the women responded saying they are Hindus but practice Christian beliefs. "Where has this (conversion) happened? What is the proof you have (of conversion)? It is our wish if we want to celebrate Christmas!" the woman is heard saying.

The argument highlighted how some Christian believers have not formally sought government certificates that record a change in their religion. Hindutva groups have targeted this particular section of citizens who straddle between Hinduism and Christianity, accusing Christian believers of forcibly converting people to Christianity. In many of the cases reported in Karnataka, Christian believers said that even police officials questioned them about their beliefs and asked them why they pray to Jesus.

A report by the People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) had earlier highlighted 39 incidents of violence against Christians and Christian believers across Karnataka in 2021. In many of the incidents, a Hindutva group was mobilised to disrupt a Christian prayer meeting. The report found that the police and in some cases the media colluded with Hindutva groups in these attacks.

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