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Christian Religious Books set Ablaze, Machete-Wielding Man Chases Priest in Karnataka

The burning of the religious books is the 38th attack on religious minorities in Karnataka in the last 12 months.

In the increasing incidence of attacks on the Christian community in Bharatiya Janata Party-ruled Karnataka, members of right-wing groups set Christian religious books ablaze alleging conversion and a machete-wielding man was seen chasing a priest in a CCTV footage on Saturday.

The incidents occurred a day before the Winter Session of the Assembly, where an anti-conversion Bill is expected to be tabled.

In the first incident, right-wing groups, according to the police, intercepted four Christians who were distributing religious books in Srinivasapura, Kolar district, around 65 km from Bengaluru. After questioning them, the men snatched their books and set them on fire, The Indian Express reported.

“Some neighbours in Srinivaspur objected to these people going door-to-door and handing out some reading material,”  a police officer requesting anonymity told Hindustan Times adding that the material appeared to be Christmas greeting cards.

While no complaint against the right-wing groups was registered, the police warned the Christian community against distributing religious booklets. “We have warned the Christian community to not create any communal disharmony by going door-to-door and preaching. Both parties, the Right Wing and the Christian community members have settled the matter amicably,” an officer told NDTV on condition of anonymity.

One of the right-wing members admitted to burning the religious books. “We did not trouble them. They were distributing books in our neighbourhood and were propagating Christianity,” he told reporters.

In the second incident, CCTV footage showed the machete-wielding man barging into St Joseph Worker Church, in Belagavi, and chasing Father Francis D’souza. The intruder chases him for a while and then flees.

Police security has been provided to the church following a complaint. “Security cover has been put in place around the church. We have the CCTV footage. Investigation is on,” a senior police officer told NDTV.

JA Kanthraj, a spokesperson for the Archdiocese of Bangalore, termed the incident a “dangerous and disturbing development”.

The burning of the religious books is the 38th attack on religious minorities in Karnataka in the last 12 months. According to a fact-finding report documented by the United Christians Forum, Association for Protection of Civil Rights and United Against Hate, 32 attacks on churches and the Christian community were reported between January and September and six in October-December.

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