Tribune News Service
Shimla, May 14
Tension gripped Rampur, the home town of Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, as Hindu organisations, under the banner of the Dev Sanskrit Raksha Manch, opposed offering of prayers by members of the Christian community in the local government school and asked an American priest, Mark Anderson, to go back.
The organisations also took out a march, tried force entry into the school where prayers were being held and also blocked the Hindustan-Tibet National Highway for more than an hour.
The police stopped the crowd from entering the school to avoid a clash between two communities that followed a scuffle between the police and protesters.
Convener of the Dev Sanskrit Raksha Manch Sandeepani Bhardwaj said the police manhandled the protesters, including women, and there were no women police personnel on the spot.
He questioned the school authorities over permission to the community to offer prayers and said whether such permission would be given to a Hindu organisation for performing yajna or havan.
DSP, Rampur, Dev Kumar Negi said the volunteers were opposing the congregation of members of the community on the school premises and to avoid any clash, the police intervened to stop them from entering the school. He said the police had no prior information about the congregation and the situation was normal after the administration and the police persuaded both parties to maintain peace and harmony.
The protesters also tore posters of the priest and alleged that the missionaries were indulging in conversions under the garb of prayers. However, Pester Kamlesh Negi said they had taken permission for the congregation and denied any attempt of conversion. They said they were only working as a “link between devotees and God.”
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