On Sunday (October 17) morning, members of the Bajrang Dal and Vishwa Hindu Parishad sang bhajans inside a makeshift church in the Hubbali area in Karnataka. The action was a mark of protest against forced religious conversion programs being conducted by the church authorities.
A video of the incident by NDTV shows scores of ladies and men chanting bhajans with folded hands inside the Bairidevarkoppa Church in Hubbali.
The activists and BJP leader demanded the arrest of pastor Somu Avaradhi.
Raghu Sakleshpora, the State Convenor of the Bajrang Dal, said: “A man called Vishvanath was taken there for conversion. He went to the police station from the church and filed a complaint against Pastor Somu and others. Later, our members assembled inside the church and in order to protest, started singing Hindu bhajans.”
Besides, members of the Bajrang Dal, Vishwa Hindu Parishad, and BJP MLA Arvind Bellad protested in front of the Navanagar police station on Sunday, accusing the cops of failing to act against the pastor accused of forcible conversions.
Earlier, a large group of activists stopped the Hubballi-Dharwad major road and the dedicated corridor of the Hubballi-Dharwad bus rapid transit system near Bairidevarkoppa for more than an hour and a half as police failed to apprehend the pastor.
Vishvanath, a vegetable vendor at APMC yard, who filed the case alleging forced conversions against the pastor and others, also accused the pastor of abusing him in the makeshift church when he recited Hindu prayers instead of Christian prayers.
Talking to reporters, Vishvanath said that pastor Somu started interacting with him three months ago. Six days ago, Somu had come to his house and said that if Vishwanath starts following Christianity, his life will change.
“Somu had asked me and my family members to attend the Sunday prayer at ‘Prayer for all’ hall in Bairidevarkoppa. However, when I started singing a prayer of Hindu gods, he, along with others at the hall, started abusing me,” he said.
The pastor has reportedly been arrested by the Police since then. The police commissioner of Hubli-Dhadwad said, “The investigation is going on. Only Somu Avaradhi has been arrested. So far, we have not received any complaint from the church.”