Mangalore shut as Christians protest attack on prayer halls

September 15th, 2008 - 1:35 pm ICT by IANS  

Bangalore, Sep 15 (IANS) Schools and shops remained shut and vehicles kept off the roads in the coastal Karnataka city of Mangalore Monday, following group clashes and demonstrations by Christian groups to protest attacks on them Sunday by right wing Hindu groups.”The city is tense. Groups of people are indulging in throwing stones at each other at a few places,” a senior police official said over telephone.

“We are trying to control the situation and at one or two places we lobbed tear gas shells to disperse the crowds,” he added.

Christians gathered at prayers halls in the bustling commercial centre, about 350 km from state capital Bangalore, to protest attack on churches and prayer halls.

The police official said stones were pelted at police personnel from inside a prayer hall complex in the city.

Around 10 churches and Christian prayers halls were Sunday attacked in the coastal districts of Dakshina Kannada - of which Mangalore is the headquarters - and Udupi by suspected Bajrang Dal activists, the police said.

The attacks, damaging window panes and furniture, were to protest alleged conversion activities, officials said.

Soon after the attacks Sunday, hundreds of Christians in Mangalore demonstrated in front of the churches and prayer halls, demanding arrest of the attackers.

On Sunday too police used batons and teargas shells to disperse protesters and banned the assembly of five or more people in Mangalore city for three days.

Around 10 people were injured in the clashes between Christian and Hindu groups. A few policemen were also hurt in the stone throwing, police said.

The 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.

There have been attacks on one or two Christian prayer halls in the rich coffee plantation district of Chikmagalur and the central Karnataka district of Davangere earlier this month, the attackers alleging that the churches were enticing Hindus to convert to Christianity.

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