Shutdown in violence-hit Mangalore

September 16th, 2008 - 3:41 pm ICT by IANS  

Bangalore, Sep 16 (IANS) Educational institutions and shops remained closed and roads were deserted in Karnataka’s coastal city of Mangalore Tuesday as a Hindu group called for a shutdown to protest the stabbing of one of its activists.Sri Rama Sena (Lord Rama’s army), a Hindu group, organised the shutdown of the bustling commercial city, around 350 km from here, as its activist was stabbed Monday evening.

“We are investigating the stabbing incident and are yet to establish whether it was related to the attacks on churches or old enmity,” a police official said.

Around 10 people were stabbed Monday evening on the city’s outskirts, some in incidents related to Sunday’s attack on churches and prayer halls and subsequent violent protests by Christians.

“The situation was used by some to settle personal scores and not all stabbing incidents are related to attack on churches and the subsequent violence in the city,” the police official said.

Around 175 people have been arrested so far, over 50 of them for attack on churches and prayer halls and the rest for clashes with Hindu groups and police on Monday.

The attack by right-wing Hindu groups was to protest alleged conversion activities by Christians and distribution of literature insulting Hindu gods, specifically by a sect called the New Life Fellowship. The sect leaders have refuted the charges.

Karnataka Home Minister V.S. Acharya, who hails from the region, was in Mangalore holding talks with senior civil and police officials and community leaders to contain the violence.

On Monday evening, Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa visited Mangalore, the headquarters of Dakshina Kannada district, and the neighbouring Udupi district, where also some churches were attacked Sunday.

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.

Meanwhile, opposition Congress and Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) leaders visited Mangalore Tuesday. They have called for resignation of the state home minister for failure to protect the minority communities.

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