Five persons including a local Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader were arrested on Tuesday in connection with the attacks against Christian Adivasis in Chhattisgarh's Narayanpur, police said.
In a related development, police allegedly stopped state BJP leaders from visiting Narayanpur city a day after the violence.
Notably, Outlook earlier reported from their local sources that Rupsai Salam, BJP district president, Narayanpur has been leading the gharwapsi movement for last few months
The attacks on Chritian Adivasis took an ugly turn yesterday as a mob allegedly comprised of Hindu right-wing groups vandalised a church in Narayanpur and attacked the police severely injuring Superintendent of Police (SP) Sadanand Kumar who along with his team went there to pacify the people who were protesting against alleged conversion by Christian missionaries.
Four separate First Information Reports (FIRs) were registered in connection with the incidents under sections 148 (rioting, armed with deadly weapon), 153 (a) (promoting enmity between different groups on ground of religion, race etc and doing acts prejudiced to maintenance of harmony), 120 (b) (criminal conspiracy), 295 (injuring or defiling place of worship with intent to insult a religion) and 295 (A) (deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings) of the Indian Penal Code.
Adequate security personnel have been deployed to maintain law and order in the Narayanpur district, the senior police official said, adding that the situation was peaceful and normal.
However, the protest on Monday was not held under the banner of the party, they said.
State BJP chief spokesperson Ajay Chandrakar claimed a delegation of party leaders including MPs Santosh Pandey and Mohan Mandavi and MLA Shivratan Sharma were stopped at Benoor police station when they were heading to Narayanpur to take a stock of the situation.
“The Congress government has been behaving like dictator and murdering democracy. Stopping our leaders from going to Narayanpur clearly indicates that those who are involved in religious conversion have protection of Congress,” Chandrakar alleged.
What happened yesterday?
Around 2,000 people, mostly tribals, held a public meeting in Narayanpur on Monday in protest against alleged religious conversions in the tribal-dominated area.
After the meeting, the crowd dispersed in groups.
Some of them entered a church located in Viswadeepti school premises and vandalised it.
The protestors then went on a rampage and carried out violent demonstrations in other places in the city including Bakhrupara Bazaar.
The incident took place around afternoon when a mob gathered near Viswadeepti school to protest against a clash that broke out at Ekda village between two communities over the alleged religious conversion by the Christian missionaries.
Inspector General of Police (IG) Sundarraj P told reporters, “Around 2,000 people were present for a meeting held in Narayanpur. Local tribal leaders Rupsai Salam, Narayan Markam and few others were leading the gathering”.
How police is investigating the matter?
IG Sundarraj P said the police have also registered an FIR in connection with a clash between two groups at Gorra village under Edka police station limits in the district on January 1.
A separate case was registered and three persons were arrested for allegedly attacking a police team which had gone to Gorra after learning about the clash, he said.
Besides, seventeen other persons have been arrested on the charges of disturbing peace in villages along the border of Narayanpur and Kondgaon in the last few days, the official added.
Last month, a large number of people belonging to the Christian community staged a protest in front of the Collector's office in Narayanpur alleging atrocities.
Protestors from at least 14 villages in the tribal-dominated district had claimed that they had been assaulted and evicted from their homes for following Christianity.
In the state Assembly, the BJP claimed on Tuesday that religious conversion in tribal-dominated areas has increased under the Congress government's watch.
Monday's violent incidents in Narayanpur could have been averted had the police acted against complaints of conversions, they said.
(Wuth PTI Inputs)