After Orissa, it's Karnataka - ten churches vandalized
Hindustan Times / Bangalore, September 15, 2008: Two pastors and six others were injured in simultaneous attacks carried out on 14 churches and prayer halls by suspected Bajrang Dal activists in coastal districts of Mangalore,Udupi and the neighboring district of Chikmagalur, on Sunday.
Eyewitnesses told the police that some motorcycle-borne miscreants barged into prayer halls and ransacked them.
A statue of Jesus Christ was damaged in a prayer hall next to Milagres' Convent in Mangalore City. While some of these churches belonged to the Pentecostal Mission, the rest were of Roman Catholics. The pastors were injured at Sirur in Udupi and Jayapura in Chikmagalur.
The attackers apparently were protesting against an alleged conversion drive by missionaries in the region.
The attacks triggered protests and sit-in on roads from Christians in Mangalore and Chikmagalur. Later, policemen caned protests to facilitate smooth flow of traffic.Prohibitory orders have been put in place under Section 144 of the CrPCin Mangalore for the next three days. "We are perplexed at such simultaneous attacks. All of them were carried out between 10:15 am and 10:30 am. We don't know the provocation, but it's probably because of the reports of conversion. We are questioning some youth. No one has been taken into custody,"said A M Prasad, the IGP Eastern Range.
The Pradesh Congress chief and the Opposition leader in the assembly, Mallikarjun Kharge, has demanded a judicial probe into the attacks.
"These attacks have taken placeinHome Minister Dr V S Acharya's district. Therefore, he must quit his post on moral grounds,"Kharge told reporters.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has raised the issue with Karnataka Governor Rameshwar Thakur and Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa and asked them to ensure communal harmony "at all costs".
"The law and order situation in Karnataka has reached its nadir and minorities are particularly being targeted to intimidate and silence them from performing their legitimate religious rites. The Sangh parivar is being given a free hand by the state government,'' alleged Congress spokesman Veerappa Moily.
Chruch damaged in Indore
In Indore, a Protestant church in Chhawni area was set afire by miscreants late on Saturday night leading to minor damage to the building. The church has been a bone of contention between two factions within the same community, said police sources.
Times of India / MANGALORE/UDUPI/CHIKMAGALUR: After Kandhmal, it is the turn of Christians in Karnataka to face the ire of right-wing Hindu mobs.
Suspected Bajrang Dal activists vandalized seven churches and a house in Mangalore, Udupi and Chikmagalur districts on Sunday, protesting alleged conversions of Hindus to Christianity.
Some preachers and parishioners were assaulted and church property damaged in the attacks. The police in the three districts are yet to arrest anyone.
In Dakshina Kannada district, the activists targeted the Adoration Monastery just off the Milagres Church on Falnir Road. The 10-member group barged into the prayer hall and damaged the tabernacle, where the holy Eucharist is kept. They damaged windowpanes, furniture as well the crucifix. Police said the same group attempted to vandalise another prayer hall in Kankanady, but were driven back.
Later, Christians gathered in large numbers in front of the Milagres Hall to protest against the series of attacks. The day-long stand off between the protesters and the police resulted in violence. Protesters hurled stones at the police who lathicharged them in return. Several vehicles were damaged, including the jeep of the city DSP D Dharmaiah.
Police burst teargas shells to disperse the angry youth. Some of the protesters took shelter in the Milagres Church Hall premises to escape the mob fury. Prohibitory orders have been imposed in the area up to 8 am on Wednesday.
SP N Sathish Kumar said the police stood guard at some churches that they suspected would be targets of attacks. However, the miscreants had changed their plans in the last moment and attacked churches that did not have police security.
In Udupi district, three places of worship belonging to the New Life group in the district were attacked while the Sunday prayers were in progress. No arrests have been made so far.
A prayer hall near the KSRTC bus station was attacked around 10.20 am during a prayer. Over 15 activists entered the hall and attacked the people and ransacked the entire place. A music system and projector were damaged. According to sources, the miscreants came in vehicles.
In Shiroor, near Baindur, the prayer hall of the same group was attacked. A vehicle was burnt and some members of the congregation, including the pastor, were attacked. A similar incident was reported from Mudur near Kollur where some materials were damaged. However, the police prevented another such attack in prayer halls of the New Life group in Kaup and Karkala. Udupi SP Pravin Pawar said he suspected Bajrang Dal activists were behind the attack.
He told TOI that the police registered cases and investigations had started. In Chikmagalur district, the activists attacked three churches and the house of a neo convert. In one incident, 15 activists came in a vehicle and barged into Harvest India church at Makkikoppa near Jayapura in Koppa taluk in the morning and assaulted a parishioner and the protestant pastor. They broke the window panes and the plastic chairs.
Concerned over the prospects of an anti-Christian campaign spreading to Karnataka soon after attacks on minorities in Orissa, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh drew the attention of chief minister B S Yedyurappa to reports of such incidents earlier in the day.
He also talked to governor Rameshwar Thakur. The stage for the PM's telephonic talks had been set by a Congress demand for central interventions to end attacks on churches and Christian institutions allegedly by Sangh Parivar activists. In a statement, party leader Veerappa Moily said that several outfits of the Sangh Parivar had attacked churches and Christian buildings in a number of districts in southern Karnataka.
He said that such incidents had been going on for the past few weeks. Claiming that the culprits were allowed to go free, Moily claimed that the BJP government in the state had looked the other way instead of arresting the hoodlums. "Congress demands that the state government initiate immediate action; otherwise we may have no option but to approach the government of India for appropriate intervention," he said in a statement.
Bangalore/IANS: Around 10 churches and Christian prayers halls were on Sunday attacked in Karnataka's coastal districts of Dakshina Kannada and Udupi by suspected Bajrang Dal activists, the police said.
The attacks, damaging window panes and furniture, were to protest alleged conversion activities, the police said.
"We have not received any report of the people injured in the attacks," a senior police official said.
There have been attacks on one or two Christian prayer halls in the coffee plantation-rich district of Chikmagalur and central Karnataka district of Davangere earlier this month, the attackers alleging that the churches were enticing Hindus to convert to Christianity.
Hundreds of Christians in Dakshina Kannada district headquarters Mangalore, about 350 km from Bangalore, demonstrated in front of the churches and prayer halls, demanding arrests of the attackers.
At several places in Mangalore city, the agitators clashed with the police who tried to disperse them and also with pro-Hindu groups, a police official said over telephone from Mangalore.
The police used baton and teargas shells to disperse the protesters and banned assembly of five or more people in Mangalore city for three days from Sunday.
Dakshina Kannada police superintendent N Satish Kumar told IANS that he had held peace meetings with leaders of the two communities to bring back normalcy to the bustling commercial centre.
Satish Kumar later told reporters that the protesters had attacked police personnel. "This is a serious issue and we will take action," he said.
A police jeep and a private bus were damaged in the stone throwing by the protesters.
Around 10 people were injured in the clashes between Christian groups and pro-Hindu groups and in stone-pelting by the protesters, the police said.
Pro-Hindu groups maintained they did not attack churches but only prayer halls run by some Christian groups whose main activity was, according to them, to convert Hindus.
Central minister Oscar Fernandes, who hails from the region, visited some of the damaged prayers halls on Sunday evening.
Meanwhile, C S John, founder of the Mission Church in Karnataka, which has around 200 churches in the state, said one of the churches in a village was attacked on Sunday morning, the second attack in eight days.
The first attack took place on Saturday at a village in Chikmagalur district, he said.
"The attackers manhandled priest Sunil Kumar," John said. Later, Kumar's house was also attacked and household articles damaged, he added.