Earlier, he was targeted allegedly by Hindutva groups

A Christian priest was targeted allegedly by Hindutva groups on the charge that he converted a family at Siddapura in Uttara Kannada district on Sunday. Since the incident, the 45-year-old pastor, Anil Kumar D., a resident of Hubli, has suffered a mild heart attack and is in hospital. Talking to The Hindu over phone from a private hospital at Sirsi, Mr. Kumar narrated the series of events that led to his subsequent arrest on the suspicion he had made attempts to convert two Scheduled Castes women there.

“The woman’s husband died of cancer a few years ago, and when he was in Hubli, I had conducted prayer sessions for his family. Even after his death, the woman and his daughter were in touch with me, and they invited me to their house for prayers,” he said.

Mr. Kumar reached the house on Saturday night, and conducted a prayer session on Sunday. “However, around 11.30 p.m., after the prayer, a boy, who is their relative, barged in and said some right-wing groups had surrounded the house and that they will not allow me to leave the town,” said the pastor.

Though the pastor hid himself, the mob broke the back door of the tiled-roof house, and started to hack away on the asbestos door of the bathroom. “I could hear them tell one another to shoot me. I then came out of the bathroom, and they dragged me out,” he said.

Though the Siddapura police arrived by this time, there was little respite for Mr. Kumar.

“They started accusing me of conversion. They took me to the police station, and repeated that I was trying to convert [people]. When I denied it, a police officer hit me,” he alleged.

Eventually, he was booked under Section 109 of the Criminal Procedure Code, which follows “suspicious behaviour”.

He was produced before a tahsildhar and released on a surety. However, on Monday morning, the pastor suffered a heart attack, and it was only on Wednesday that he was shifted out of the Intensive Care Unit. No cases were booked against those who barged into the house.

Police denial

A senior police official of Uttara Kannada said that Mr. Kumar was brought in following a complaint by the relatives of the woman. “After being brought to the police station, he was asked for his address and other details. As he failed to give the details, and following allegations from the woman’s relatives themselves of conversion, we had to take an undertaking from him,” he said. The police also denied the charge that they had assaulted him.

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