Activists and victims blame ‘police inaction’ for ‘increasing attack’ on Karnataka’s Christian community

With a recent report of an increase in attacks on Christians in Karnataka since the BJP-led state government proposed an anti-conversion law, activists and victims cited “the inaction of the police” as one of the main reasons for this increase.

In one of the incidents in Belur town, Hassan district, on November 28, about 25 Bajrang Dal members stormed into a church while the prayer service was in progress, following allegations forced conversions.

A member of the church, who was present at the scene during the incident, later said: “The police arrived after we complained and tried to ease the tension created by the right-wing activists. The police also informed us that an FIR had been filed at the Belur police station against five people based on our complaint.

However, she added, “We later found out that no action would be taken even against the five named in the FIR because someone on our side would have agreed to a consensual settlement.”

A video that went viral showed the activists forcing people out of the prayer hall and some women from the Christian community engaging in a verbal spat with Bajrang Dal members.

However, a senior police officer in Hassan said the matter “was resolved amicably”. Asked about the next course of action, he said: “During the peace meeting, both sides promised that such problems would not happen again, so we decided not to take any action.

In another number reported to the United Christian Forum (UCF) national hotline, around 40 activists allegedly assaulted a priest and others attending a Sunday prayer meeting in Rajanukunte, on the outskirts of Bangalore. . The Kannada version of a report released last week mentions that the group disrupted services by throwing stones at the church building and destroyed the altar and worshipers’ vehicles parked on the premises.

“When the police arrived, the activists, who outnumbered members of the Christian community there, pressured the police to file an FIR against the priest. Three days later, the priest was summoned by the police and suggested that he cancel the prayer services, citing sensitivity,” a UCF volunteer said on condition of anonymity.

The report also cites incidents of vandalism, false accusations and forced arrests in Udupi, Belagavi, Uttara Kannada, Chitradurga and Bengaluru districts.

The joint report by UCF, the Association for the Protection of Civil Rights (APCR) and United Against Hate claimed that a total of 32 such incidents have been reported in the state since the start of 2021. He further claimed that at least five of them took place. between October and mid-November and said Karnataka ranks third among Indian states where attacks on the Christian community and their places of worship have been recorded.

Former Karnataka High Court prosecutor BT Venkatesh told The Indian Express that the police inaction could be attributed to the social and systematic pressure the police are exposed to. “While the police are bound to receive a complaint, negotiations begin to include and exclude certain names in the FIRs based on coercion by those in power. In order to avoid facing the wrath of those in need and other adverse consequences, police officials are forced to compromise on proper investigation and therefore prosecution of the accused in such cases. “, did he declare.

Venkatesh further pointed out the feudal structure of the society which leads to the idea that “might is right”, apart from the caste structure which lies in “existence and subjugation of Dalits” as factors. that fuel conversion-related issues.

Earlier, Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai announced that a bill banning “forced conversions” in the state would be passed by the state government during the winter session of the Assembly scheduled for 13 december.

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