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100 protesters arrested in ongoing Mangalore violence

Posted on Wed, Sep 17, 2008

Over 100 people protesting the attack of right-wing Hindu groups against Churches and prayer halls in Karnataka state were arrested by the police yesterday.

Mangalore (Christian Today) - Over 100 people protesting the attack of right-wing Hindu groups against Churches and prayer halls in Karnataka state were arrested by the police yesterday.
According to AM Prasad, a senior local police official, at least 40 people, including 20 police were injured when troops used batons and tear gas on the protesters in Mangalore district of Karnataka state.

The arrests were made for defying a government order prohibiting large public gatherings till Wednesday, following the widespread tension.

Following the violence on Sunday, more than 50 members of the RSS and Bajrang Dal were arrested by the police when attackers stoned buildings, broke glass windows and furnitures. Over 20 prayers halls were attacked in the spree.

Mobs linked with Hindu radical groups attacked Christian worship places in Mangalore, Chikmaglur and Udupi districts, alleging that some churches had circulated literature defaming the Hindu religion, specifically by a sect called the New Life Fellowship (NLF), Prasad said. The sect leaders have however refuted the charges.

"We admit that there are conversions. But they are not with inducement. It's happening out of people's own will after 'inner experience' with the Lord, like me," said NLF pastor Donald P Menezes, an executive committee member of Karnataka Missions Network. "According to the Bible, it's a sin to offer inducement and convert people."

"People from different religions come to our meeting for healing. They have been cured of deadly diseases like cancer," he claimed.

In the 1992 census, Christians were 2.7%, and the latest census show Christians as only 2.3%; then where is the conversion? “Rev. Dr. Aloyisus DSouza, Bishop of Mangalore”

Meanwhile, Chief Minister of Karnataka B S Yeddyurappa on Monday visited Mangalore and the neighboring Udupi district, where churches were attacked.

Yeddyurappa told Christian community leaders that the government will bear the cost of repair of the damaged churches. He appealed to them to discourage people who indulge in conversion by either force or inducement.

"The Constitution guarantees right to everyone to follow their faith but does not allow for conversion by force or inducement," he later told reporters.

"The government will not allow anyone to take law into their hands. If any incident of attempt at conversion is noticed, it should be brought to the attention of authorities," Yeddyurappa said.

Bishop of Mangalore Dr Aloysius DSouza however as asserted that no cases of conversion had come to light in any of 158 churches under Mangalore diocese. He urged the district administration to take stringent action against the culprits responsible for yesterday's attacks and put in maximum efforts to maintain peace in the district.

"We dont want any assurance, the police should act swiftly and arrest the culprits. They have not acted in a proper manner," he said.

Christian Associations of Chikmaglur meanwhile have decided to defer the massive rally they had planned to be held on September 17 to protest against the attacks.

Convener of Federation of Karnataka Christ Association, James D’Souza said the Federation had earlier planned to hold a rally in Chikmaglur on Wednesday. But in view of the tense situation, they had postponed it.

The violence in Mangalore followed weeks of Hindu-Christian clashes in the eastern state of Orissa where over 300 churches were burnt and at least 50,000 have been forced to flee their homes and move to relief camps.
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