A pastor couple has been arrested for forcibly converting SC people in Karnataka. Their son has been booked under POCSO Act for raping a minor girl on the pretext of marrying her. The pastor threw Hindu deities’ images into a canal and told the converted families that they would go to hell if they continued to pray to Hindu deities. The family has reverted to Hindu dharma now.
Shankar, one of the victims whose families were converted by the pastor, filed a complaint with the Koppal police. Shankar said in his complaint that pastor Satyanarayana alias Samuel, who runs Grace Prayer Centre in Karatagi, Koppal, had converted him by promising money.
Times Now reported Shankar as saying, “After I was baptised by the pastor, he asked us to follow the rituals of Christianity and warned us to not pray to Hindu deities. He also confiscated the photographs of Hindu deities from our home and threw them into a canal, where he later baptised other members of my family.”
News 9 reported that the pastor told the converted family that they would die and go to hell if they prayed to Hindu deities. He also threatened to kill Shankar and have his children raped if he dared to return to Hindu dharma. When Shankar told his community leaders about the forced conversion, the pastor reportedly abused and beat him.
Shankar also accused the pastor’s wife Shivamma Sara of taking his children to the church and involving them in church activities when he and his wife were away from home for work. The pastor’s 17 year old son has been booked under the POCSO Act for raping a 15 year old girl on the promise of marrying her. There is some confusion about the victim’s family. While few of the media has reported that she is Shankar’s daughter, others say that she is from a different family which came forward to file a complaint after Shankar filed his forced conversion complaint.
The New Indian Express report says that the victim is Shankar’s daughter and she was staying with the pastor’s family when the rape happened. The report quotes a police officer as saying that Shankar and his family were converted 4 years ago. “They were practising their new religion though they had not officially converted. Shankar was waiting to expose Samuel who allegedly used to target poor families and would lure them to convert”, it says. But Shankar’s daughter was raped in the meantime following which he lodged the complaint against the trio.
The pastor and his wife have been sent to judicial custody while their son has been sent to a juvenile home. Meanwhile police are investigating the claims of forced conversions in the Ramanagara area where Shankar and his family live. Shankar and his family have reverted to Hindu dharma under the aegis of Marulasideshwara Swamiji with the help of Hindu Jagrana Vedike.