A group of Bajrang Dal activists allegedly disrupted a prayer meeting at Jesus Prayer Hall in Belur town on Sunday, on the ground that “forced religious conversions” were happening at the place.
The incident came to light on Monday when the video clips of the incident went viral on social media platforms. Similar incidents have been reported in Belagavi over the last fortnight.
The group of about 15-20 people attempted to barge into the prayer hall, even as more than 40 people were engaged in prayer. The devotees stopped the activists from entering and picked up a heated argument with them.
Denying the allegations of religious conversion, they said they had been taking part in prayers voluntarily and none had the right to disrupt the prayers. Local police rushed to the place and succeeded in dispersing the mob.
Raghu Sakaleshpura, regional coordinator of Bajrang Dal, on Monday told The Hindu that the place where the meeting was held was not a church, but “a centre of conversion”. “The organisers of the prayers are luring people to convert to Christianity through various means. One of our activists had been invited to the prayers on Sunday. When he heard the people inside insulting the Hindu gods, he informed other members. They reached the spot to enquire,” he said. “If the administration allows prayer next week, we will attack,” he said.
Suresh Paul, who is in charge of the prayer hall, denied the allegations of the Bajrang Dal and said he was hurt and disappointed by the event. “We were praying inside, nothing else. Can they prove that we were converting people to Christianity,” he asked. Mr. Paul said he had all rights to hold prayers on his private property as the Constitution granted freedom of religion.
He said it was the strategy of the Bajrang Dal activists to disturb peace by sending someone from their organisation to attend the prayer and later create an impression of being forced into conversion.
Mr. Paul said he had not filed a complaint with the police as someone from the organisation apologised over phone and the police officer held a meeting to resolve the issue amicably.