Belagavi: Cops ask Protestants to not hold mass in halls

Belagavi: Cops ask Protestants to not hold mass in halls

Image used for representational purpose

BELAGAVI: Police have barred Protestants from renting community halls or other places in Belagavi district for holding prayer congregations over concerns of lawand-order disruption.

The Protestants do not have a dedicated church in Belagavi. They have been renting private halls to offer Sunday services for over 15 years. Now, they are holding prayer and service meetings online. Following a recent attack by fringe group Sri Rama Sena Hindustan which accused the community members of indulging in forcible conversion, police have asked community leaders to not hold such congregations in rented places amid fears that they may be targeted.

Belagavi City police chief K Thiyagarajan said police were acting on complaints from the public. “Community halls, residential buildings and other establishments are not supposed to be rented out for routine prayers. If anyone wants to worship in such facilities, then permission needs to be obtained from the government,” he added.

Pastor Thomas of Full Gospel Assembly said cops have verbally instructed 25 praying groups to not assemble in halls.

Conducting meetings online: Pastor

He said they do not have designated churches and, hence, meet on Sundays at rented places, homes or other establishments.

Pastor Prabhakar from Bailhongal said Ram Sena activists barged into a badminton court where they met for prayers and attacked them some days ago. This has been their incident-free praying venue for 15 years.

“We are now conducting meetings online,” saidImanuel Gaikwad , a pastor organising such prayers under the banner of Belagavi Bible Church, at Royal school in Belagavi. He said a police officer attached to Tilakwadi station called him over phone and asked him to stop such gatherings following which the school owner also refused to give the hall on rent.

‘Deeply upset’ Gaikwad said the community was deeply upset as the police action violates the right to worship guaranteed in the Constitution.

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