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Kolapur: Two Christian Priests Beaten up, Paraded through Streets



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PUNE, May 9: Two Christian priests were mercilessly beaten up allegedly by Bajrang Dal and VHP activists and paraded through the streets of Ichalkaranji town in Kolapur district before being arrested on a charge of converting people.

The Maharashtra government on Tuesday ordered a probe into the assault on the priests last evening. Condemning the attack, Deputy Chief Minister R R Patil told reporters in Mumbai that "such incidents should not occur in a country like India where citizens have freedom to practice their religion".

Pro-Hindutva activists alleged that the priests --Ajit Billawi and Ramesh Kagargole -- from Karnataka were engaged in converting seven Hindus to Christianity.

The incident occurred in Shahpur locality when activists of Hindu groups reached the spot where the priests of Frank Missionary Prayer Board were found performing rites to convert people, Resident Deputy Collector Milind Pathak said.

The priests were dragged to the local police station after they were beaten in public. They were detained by police after the activists filed a complaint against them that alleged they were converting people using coercion. Their cameras and photographs of the ceremony were also seized.

Kolapur's Superintendent of Police Sukhwinder Singh said a complaint had also been registered against those involved in the attack on the priests.

Singh said investigations were on to identify the attackers, who are local residents, and activists who complained the priests were trying to convert people.

This was the second such incident in recent weeks. A pastor in Jaipur was attacked, allegedly by VHP and Bajrang Dal activists, for preaching Christianity.


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