A group of Hindutva supremacists attacked a Dalit family residing in Tukkanatti village in Karnataka’s Belagavi district after accusing them of converting their neighbours to Christianity, reported The Hindu.
Five members of the family were injured in the attack, and one woman suffered burn injuries. The injured are being treated at a government and a private hospital near Mudalagi town.
The group allegedly barged into the home of Kavita and Akshay Kumar Karaganavi on December 29 around 1 pm. Akshay Kumar Karaganvi, a pastor, was conducting prayers at the time.
The Hindutva supremacists asked them to stop the prayers. Following this, an argument broke out and the group assaulted members of the family. The group allegedly threw hot curry on one of the women, Bharati Vyapari, and also attacked another, Mahadevi Jogi, according to The News Minute.
One of the accused, identified as Ramesh Dandaur, also allegedly snatched a gold chain that belonged to one of the family members.
“They abused our caste as a group of toilet cleaners and chappal makers, and that we were betraying the Hindu faith that were born into,” Akshay Karaganavi told the police, The Hindu reported, citing an officer.
A case was registered under the Prevention of Atrocities Act, 1989, and the Atrocities Act amendment ordinance of 2014. The first information report also contained charges under Indian Penal Code Sections, including 147 (rioting), 322 (causing hurt), 341 (wrongful restraint), 354 (outraging the modesty of woman), and 326 (causing grievous hurt by dangerous means).
The pastor’s wife noted in her complaint that the prayers were conducted every year after Christmas, the police said, reported The Indian Express.
Attacks on Christians in Karnataka
The incident comes amid several reports of Hindutva supremacists disrupting Christmas celebrations in Karnataka and elsewhere.
Last week, a widely shared video showed a group of women in a Dalit home fending off Hindutva supremacists in Karnataka’s Tumakuru district. The women questioned the men who reportedly barged into the home and tried to stop the Christmas celebrations.
In another episode from last week, Hindutva supremacists disrupted Christmas celebrations in a school in Pandavapura town of Karnataka’s Mandya district. In a video, the men could be seen shouting at teachers of the Nirmala English High School and College, asking them to stop the Christmas festivities.
In December, a report released by the People’s Union for Civil Liberties listed 39 incidents of violence against Christians in Karnataka between January and November. The report noted that the state has seen a sharp increase in violent attacks by Hindutva groups on Christians during prayer meetings.
Another fact-finding report by the United Christians Forum, Association for Protection of Civil Rights and United Against Hate ranked Karnataka as third in the list of states with the highest number of attacks on Christians.
The Christian community in Karnataka has also raised concerns that the state’s new anti-conversion Bill was targeted at them. The Bill proposes maximum punishment of a jail term of 10 years for forcible religious conversion of women, minors and people from the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes.