Booklet by convert fuels Mangalore unrest

source: Hindustan Times, September 17, 2008

The precipitating cause that led to the attacks on churches and prayer
halls in this coastal hub and its adjoining districts was a
controversial booklet written by a recent local convert to Christianity
which made offensive references to Hindu gods comparing them adversely
to ‘the one true god’ of the Christians.

Bajrang Dal sources claimed the booklet, called Satyadarshini (The
Truth), written by one Lakshminarayan, had been distributed to
parishioners of the New Life Fellowship Trust, part of the Pentecost
Mission during the past three weekends. “I joined the worshippers at
the church and collected a copy myself,” claimed Sharan Kumar, vice
president of the Dakshina Kannada unit.

“No true believer in Jesus Christ would run down other religions,”
said pastor Donald Menezes, who heads the local zone of 16 churches,
insisting none of them had anything to do with the booklet. “I first
learnt about it when some journalists showed it to me,” he told HT.

As this coastal hub, which saw a series of attacks by Hindu mobs on
churches and prayer halls for the last three days, remained violence
free for the first time on Tuesday, Home Minister V. S. Acharya, who
visited the area, declared he would take action against the New Life
Fellowship Trust.

“But the Bajrang Dal should not have taken the law into its own
hands,” he said. “They could have brought the matter to the
government’s notice. We have arrested 53 people for attacks on
Christian places of worship.”

Acharya, however, also insisted that Christians were engaging in
‘conversions by deceit’ across the district, a charge Christians denied
hotly. “Census figures show that the number of Christians in this
district declined between 1992 and 2002,” he noted.

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