CCTV footage of the incident shows the man, machete in hand, following Father Francis D’souza, in-charge of the church. On spotting him, the priest is seen moving away. The armed intruder follows him for a bit but later flees.
The incident comes a day before the Assembly meets for the Winter Session in Belagavi. A Bill against religious conversions, which has been opposed by the Opposition and Christian organisations, is to be tabled in the Assembly this session.
Following a police complaint about Sunday’s incident, security has been provided at the church and an investigation has started.
A senior police officer told NDTV, “A security cover has been put in place around the church. We have the CCTV footage. Investigation is on.”
J A Kanthraj, a spokesperson for the Archdiocese of Bangalore, has termed the incident a “dangerous and disturbing development”.
In September this year, following a meeting with 30 Hindu religious leaders, Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj S Bommai had said that the state will soon have a law against religious conversions and that the government is looking at such laws in other states to frame the legislation.
The move has been opposed by the Opposition Congress. State party chief D K Shivakumar has alleged that the law is aimed at targeting Christians and that it would come in the way of attracting investment to the state.
Opposing the move, Archbishop of Bengaluru, Peter Machado, has written to Chief Minister Bommai and urged him not to promote this legislation.
“The entire Christian Community in Karnataka opposes the proposal of Anti-Conversion Bill in one voice and questions the need for such an exercise when sufficient laws and court directives are in place to monitor any aberration of the existing laws,” he wrote.
Quoting Article 25 and 26 of the constitution, the Archbishop said introducing such laws would infringe the rights of the citizens, especially of the minority communities.
“Anti-Conversion Bill would become a tool for the fringe elements to take law into their own hands and vitiate the atmosphere with communal unrest in the otherwise peaceful state,” the Archbishop wrote.
He also questioned the Karnataka government’s order to conduct a survey of both official and non-official Christian missionaries and the institutions and establishments functioning in the state.
With inputs from NDTV