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Violence mars bandh against evangelist meet
K Ramakrishna in Bangalore | January 21, 2005 11:50 IST
Last Updated: January 21, 2005 19:28 IST
Amidst protests from Hindu priests and the Bharatiya Janata Party in Karnataka, renowned American evangelist Benny Hinn is slated to hold his prayer meet -- Festival of Blessing -- at Jakkur, on the outskirts of Bangalore, on Friday evening.
Stray violence marred the bandh called by 'Hindu Jagaran Vedike' against Hinn's programme. However, normal life largely remained unaffected.
About 15 BJP legislators, led by party national general secretary Ananthkumar, courted arrest as part of their protest against the meeting.
Many pro-Hindu organisations led protest marches to the venue on Friday, disrupting traffic and forcing the Bangalore police to boost security for the prayer meeting.
Nearly 10,000 policemen have been deployed at the venue.
Swami Raghunath Guruji, a representative of Hindu priests in Karnataka, said that Hindus were not against Hinn's prayer sessions but were concerned about conversions.
"We fear that this prayer meeting will be used to convert poor Hindus into Christianity. We want the government to ensure that no conversion takes place during the Festival of Blessings," Swami Raghunath told rediff.com.
He alleged that Hinn's Festival of Blessings programme was an international conspiracy sponsored by US agencies to invest Rs.1.4 billion for conversions in Asia.
In fact, Hindu priests in Karnataka had announced that they have called off protests against Hinn's programme after the state government assured them that there would not be any conversions during the healing sessions.
The state government has refused to ban the Festival of Blessings, saying that the Indian Constitution permits prayer meetings.
Karnataka Revenue Minister M P Prakash, who met with a group of Hindu priests, said that the government would ensure that would be no conversions or healing sessions during the event.
More reports from Karnataka
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