Hindu activists, MLA Bellad block Hubballi-Dharwad road

Hindu activists, MLA Bellad block Hubballi-Dharwad road over religious conversion

Members of Bajrang Dal and Vishwa Hindu Parishad blocking the Hubbali-Dharwad Main Road at Bairidevarkoppa in Hubballi demanding action against ‘Christian missionary’ Somu Avaradhi, who is accused of forceful religious conversion. Credit: DH Photo/Govindraj Javali

Members of Bajrang Dal, Vishwa Hindu Parishad and BJP MLA Arvind Bellad staged a protest in front of Navanagar police station against the police for not acting against a man accused of forceful conversions here on Sunday.

Earlier, a large number of right-wing activists blocked the Hubballi-Dharwad main road and the dedicated corridor of the Hubballi-Dharwad bus rapid transit system at Bairidevarkoppa here for more than an hour and a half, as police failed to arrest ‘Christian missionary’ Somu Avaradhi, who according to an FIR filed by Vishwanath Budur, 33, had forced him to convert to Christianity with the promise of a better life.

Vishwanath, a vegetable vendor at APMC yard, told reporters that Somu started interacting with him three months ago. Six days ago, Somu had come to his house and said that if Vishwanath starts following Christianity, his life will change.

“Somu had asked me and my family members to attend the Sunday prayer at ‘Prayer for all’ hall in Bairidevarkoppa. However, when I started singing a prayer of Hindu gods, he, along with others at the hall, started abusing me,” he said.

Tension prevailed at the APMC-Navanagar police station since 4 pm when the right wing activists brought Somu to the police station and demanded that he be arrested.

Police sources told DH that Somu was shifted to a hospital in an ambulance as he had sustained injuries.

Sources said the accused was manhandled by nearly 70 right wing activists. However, Somu has not sustained any serious injuries.

The right wing activists, along with Bellad, staged a protest at the police station at around 8 pm, as they came to know that the police had let the accused go, without arresting him.

Somu told DH over phone that he had seen Vishwanath only on Sunday.

“I am a Panchamasali Lingayat. However, it was out of my volition that I started worshipping Jesus. As a pastor, I never forced anyone to convert to Christianity. During the Sunday prayers, we objected to Vishwanath raising Hindu slogans at a Christian prayer hall,” he said.

Hubballi-Dharwad police commissioner Labhu Ram and DCP (law and order) Ramarajan K did not respond to repeated calls from DH.

Check out latest DH videos here

Get a round-up of the day's top stories in your inbox

Check out all newsletters

Get a round-up of the day's top stories in your inbox