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B Upendran | HENB | Bengaluru | Dec 15, 2022:: A Dalit family of Hindu faith in Karnataka’s Koppal district has converted back to Sanatan Hindu Dharma, days after filing a police complaint claiming they were forced by a church pastor and his family to convert to Christianity, said police.
On Wednesday, Shankar (45), his wife Jambakka (40) and their five children converted to Hinduism in the presence of a seer, Marulasideshwara Swamiji, and members of right-wing outfit Hindu Jagarana Vedike (HJV).
“At around 2.30 pm on Wednesday, the family was converted to Hinduism in the presence of several leaders of the Budgajangam community, Marulasideshwara Swamiji and Hindu Jagarana Vedike,” said Ravi Timmapur, a member of HJV.
“The family had given up Hinduism and was taking part in Christian rituals,” said Timmapur. “After the leaders of the Budgajangam community spoke to them, the family apologised for converting to Christianity. They promised to not repeat this.”
Shankar, a resident of Karatagi village and a member of the Budgajangam community, filed a complaint with the Karatagi police on December 9, accusing pastor Samuel Sathyanarayana (45), wife Sara Shivamma Sathyanarayana (38) and son (17) of forcibly converting him and his family to Christianity.
Based on the complaint, the police registered a first information report (FIR) against the pastor, his wife and minor son, under Section 5 of the Karnataka Protection of Right to Freedom of Religion Act, which prohibits forced religious conversions in the state, a senior police officer said.
The three accused, who were running Grace Church, targeted poor Hindu Dalit families and converted them to Christianity by threatening them, said police, adding that they allegedly converted the family of Shankar recently by making false promises.
In the complaint, Shankar has alleged that the pastor asked him and his family to follow rituals of Christianity. He further claimed that the pastor asked him not to worship Hindu deities, saying that doing so was a “sin”. Shankar further alleged that the pastor threatened other poor families as well from returning to Hinduism.
Timmapur alleged that the pastor and his family have converted several other poor families in the village by luring them with false promises.
“The pastor approaches poor families by saying he wants to take part in Hindu rituals and then urges them to follow Christianity. He asks people to give up all Hindu rituals,” Timmapur alleged. “The poor families are also promised free food, money and education. Some families have also received death threats.”
In a separate case, the pastor’s minor son has been booked under Sections 4,5 and 12 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (Pocso) Act after another family accused him of raping a minor girl, police said.
The family of a 14-year-old girl filed a complaint against the pastor’s son alleging that he raped her under the pretext of marriage, said police. According to the police, the minor accused visited the girl’s house under the pretext of offering prayers when her parents were away. He even promised the girl that after she attains age of 18, he would marry her, said a senior police officer.
Karatagi Police Inspector Siddaramaiah told HENB that the pastor and his wife were sent to judicial custody, while their minor son was sent to a remand home in Ballari.
Concerning the deceitful conversion of poor Hindu families into Christianity and returning them to their origibal faith, there was a heat of situation which was neutralized by police at the right point of time.
The Hindu Jagarana Vedike demanded more stringent anti-conversion law in Karnataka to stop deceitful and forced conversion of Hindu families to Christianity.
__Inputs from Agencies.