Fresh attacks on church property in Karnataka, Mangalore quiet (Lead)September 17th, 2008 - 9:00 pm ICT by IANS
Mangalore, Sep 17 (IANS) Places of Christian worship were again attacked in Karnataka Wednesday though violence scarred Mangalore showed signs of normalcy with schools and offices opening and transport back on the roads after three days.Late Tuesday and early Wednesday saw a series of attacks in the state. In Dakshina Kannada district’s Ujire, religious books were burnt at the St George Church. In Kolar, about 70 km from the state capital Bangalore, a statue of Virgin Mary outside St Mary’s Church was pelted with stones Wednesday morning.
And in the coffee-rich district of Chikmagalur, church furniture was damaged late Tuesday.
However, Mangalore, the district headquarters of Dakshina Kannada district, which was rocked by attacks on churches Sunday and violent protests by Christians Monday followed by a shutdown by an organisation called Sri Rama Sene (Lord Rama’s Army), seemed back to normal.
Addressing reporters in Gulbarga, Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa said large scale conversion activities were on in the state.
As the clamour began for action against a Christian sect, the Bharatiya Janata Party’s chief minister said: “One particular group is involved in it and my government will not allow such activity.”
Though he did not name the group, Home Minister V.S. Acharya said the group was called New Life Fellowship, a protestant group that started functioning in Karnataka 25 years ago.
A senior official of the New Life in Bangalore has denied that his group was behind it. “We have neither printed nor distributed any such literature,” the official had told IANS Monday.
Another minister in the Yeddyurappa cabinet J. Krishna Palemar, who is in-charge of Dakshina Kannada district, said the government was gathering information on the activities of New Life to decide on action to be taken if it was found to be involved in conversion and distributing inflammatory literature.
Senior Congress leader from the coastal region and chairperson of the Congress media cell Veerappa Moily has said the central government would decide if any action is to be taken against rightwing Hindu groups for the attacks on churches after the National Commission on Minorities visits Mangalore and other affected places.
About 10 churches and prayer halls were attacked Sunday in Dakshina Kannada, neighbouring Udupi district and Chikmagalur.
The damage to prayer halls and other properties in the three districts is estimated at Rs.1.6 million, estimates the home minister.
At Rs.958,000, the damage was maximum in Dakshina Kannada, Acharya told reporters here. In Udupi, property worth Rs.590,000 was damaged and in Chikmagalur it was estimated at Rs.102,000, he said.
Acharya said the violent incidents had left 71 people, including 45 policemen, injured.
More than 170 people have been arrested in connection with the incidents, over 50 of them for attacking churches and prayer halls.