In yet another incident of violence against minorities in Karnataka, a man wielding a machete entered a Catholic church in Karnataka's Belagavi district and attempted to assault the priest inside before fleeing the scene. The scene was captured in CCTV footage yesterday afternoon.
The man, who appears to be in his thirties, walked up to Father Francis D'Souza who heads the church and threatened him after which the priest can be seen running out of the church. The man left shortly after. He was also carrying a wire, the purpose of which is unknown. A police complaint was filed by Father D'Souza in light of the incident and Belagavi police informed NDTV that the church had been granted additional protection.
Late in November, Belagavi police had issued a warning to Protestants in the area not to pray in community halls following a series of threats made by extremist Hindu organisations in the area, namely the Sri Ram Sene and the Bajrang Dal. Belagavi will also host the Winter Session of the Karnataka Legislative Assembly in December 13 onwards, where a stringent anti-conversion bill is rumoured to be tabled.
Adelegation of Hindu seers, along with Sri Rama Sene's president Pramod Muthalik, met the Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj S Bommai and reiterated the demand for an anti-conversion law akin to the one passed in Uttar Pradesh, accusing Christians in the area of converting poor and disadvantaged Hindus through force and monetary incentives.
"A few pastors were called and told to not conduct prayers saying right wing groups may attack them and the police will not be able to give them protection," Pastor T Thomas told The News Minute in November. "It is not banned because they have not given anything in writing, but they say it is to maintain communal harmony. In Camp and Tilakwadi police station jurisdictions, where Pastor Cherian was attacked, the police told the pastors that if you have your own church buildings, you can conduct prayer meetings but do not hold them in rented buildings or private houses," he added.
Peter Machado, Archbishop of Bengaluru wrote a letter to the CM in protest and quoted Article 25 and 26 of the constitution, alleging that the passing kf such laws would infringe the rights of the citizens, especially of the minority communities.
"The entire Christian Community in Karnataka opposes the proposal of Anti-Conversion Bill in one voice and questions the need for such an exercise when sufficient laws and court directives are in place to monitor any aberration of the existing laws," he wrote.