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Christian prayer hall attacked in Bangalore

Posted on Sun, Sep 28, 2008

BANGALORE/MANGALORE (The Hindu, 28 Sep 2008): A Christian prayer hall in Bangalore and a church in Bantwal were attacked on Friday night even as Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa maintained that “everything is under control.”

While the prayer hall near the police station at Yelahanka here was vandalised and the Bible burnt, the church was attacked at Shamboor village in Bantwal taluk of Dakshina Kannada.

Some persons entered the prayer hall and burnt the Bible and two song books. They also damaged the pulpit, a lamp, a clock and two tube-lights. “They barged into the prayer hall and caused the damage,” Bangalore city Police Commissioner Shankar M. Bidari said.

The Yelahanka police have registered a case of trespass, arson and hurting religious sentiments.

The Bantwal rural police have arrested four persons in connection with the attack on the Sacred Heart Church at Shamboor village. The police said the arrested were daily wage workers aged below 20.

Responding to the attacks on Christian institutions, the Chief Minister said: “I have discussed the issue with top-ranking police officers. Everything is under control.”

Asked if the Government had booked any person under the provisions of the Goonda Act in connection with the attacks on churches and prayer halls, the Chief Minister said: “We have given freedom to the police book cases under the Act.”

The Additional Director-General of Police (Law and Order), A.R. Infant, said: “Booking cases under the Goonda Act takes time. We have to build records and see their (miscreants) involvement in such incidents in the past which affect communal harmony. We are looking at the past of those who have been arrested to know if the provisions of the Act can be invoked against them.”

The police sources in Mangalore said that the District Magistrate would have to pass an order to book criminals under the Act. The order would have to be ratified by a High Court Bench. Once that was done, the persons charged under the Act could be detained in judicial custody for a maximum period of one year. The police were said to be compiling documents relating to various offences, and the District Magistrate’s order could come once this process ended.

Meanwhile, the Chief Minister said that the State Government had decided to form Karnataka Bhavykya Mandali (State-level committee for communal harmony) headed by himself following a suggestion from the Centre.

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