Pastor in Karnataka arrested for allegedly forcing Dalit man to convert to Christianity

A pastor has been arrested in the Hubbali region of Karnataka on Monday, on charges of abusing a Dalit man and forcing him to convert into Christianity, The Indian Express reported.

According to the newspaper, the pastor, identified as Somu Avaradhi from Hubballi, was arrested by the police after right-wing activists staged a protest backed by BJP MLA Aravind Bellad and alleged conversion of Hindus to Christianity. The protestors supposedly sang songs sitting inside a makeshift church and demanded the arrest of the pastor.

Vishwanath Budur, belonging to the Bhovi Scheduled Caste (SC) community on Sunday lodged a police complaint stating that a pastor, Somu Avaradhi lured him to convert to Christianity over three months and that he was abused by the pastor for sporting vermilion on Sunday, as per reports by the media outlet. The dalit man filed the complaint in the APMC Navanagar police station.

Hubli-Dharwad West constituency’s BJP MLA Bellad joined the Hindutva outfits including the Bajrang Dal and Vishwa Hindu Parishad members to block the Hubballi-Dharwad main road and dedicated corridor for buses at Hubli’s Bairidevarkoppa. The right-wing activists staged a protest at the APMC police station at around 8 pm after they came to know that the accused was allowed to leave without the police arresting him.

Hubballi-Dharwad police commissioner Labhu Ram told The Indian Express, “Somu Avaradhi has been arrested and a probe is underway. The law and order situation is under control.”

Police sources also told the media outlet that pastor Somu, belonging to the Panchamasali Lingayat community, stated that he had been worshipping Jesus Christ of his own volition and he never forced anyone to convert to Christianity. Somu has been booked under sections of SC ST Act, 1989 and IPC 295 (a).

(Inputs from The Indian Express)

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