The Conversion Agenda

"Freedom to convert" is counterproductive as a generalized doctrine. It fails to come to terms with the complex interrelationships between self and society that make the concept of individual choice meaningful. Hence, religious conversion undermines, and in extremes would dissolve, that individual autonomy and human freedom.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Opposition seeks Judicial Probe into Benny Hinn Programme

January 22, 2005, 9:50 am

Saturday, January 22, 2005
Deccan Herald
Bangalore

After incidents of stone throwing and damage to buses yesterday, the city was relatively calm today.

The City which witnessed widespread protests, arsoning and stone pelting incidents against the "Festival of Blessing" meeting of American evangelist Benny Hinn on Friday, was relatively calm on Saturday, except for a stray incident or two even as opposition parties in Karnataka demanded a judicial probe by a sitting judge of the Supreme Court into the prayer meeting.

Speaking to Deccan Herald City Police Commissioner S Mariswamy said that no untoward incidents were reported on the second day of the Festival of Blessing. Mr Mariswamy said over 10,000 policemen have been deployed at the Jakkur airfield where the programme is being held. He said that an estimated crowd of six lakh attended the Festival of Blessing on the first day.

Anti-evangelist activists turned violent and damaged around 300 buses on Friday. The programme was held amidst widespread protest by the Sangh Parivar including the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Mr Mariswamy said that the programme will continue amidst tight security with top police officials personally supervising the bandobust arrangements at various vantage points of the meeting premises.

Opposition stages dharna

Talking to newspersons separately, Janata Dal (United) and Bharatiya Janata Party leaders accused the government of 'colluding' with the organisers to arrange the programme and thereby committing 'black magic' on innocent people.

JD (U) President B Somasekhar charged the organisers with flouting all guidelines of the Airports Authority of India and holding the show in the Jakkur airport. Both the Central and the state governments were responsible for organising such an event, he felt.

Opposition leader in the State Assembly B S Yediyurappa, who is leading a day and night dharna in front of Mahatma Gandhi Statue in protest against the prayer meeting, said Mr Singh had insulted the feelings of the Hindus by attending the prayer meet last night.

He demanded Mr Singh's resignation, saying that he had no moral right to continue in power after attending the meeting which supported 'conversion.' It was unfortunate that Mr Singh even forgot to wish the Muslim brethren on the occasion of Bakrid yesterday, he pointed out.

Hinn thanks CM, other leaders for support

American Evangelist Benny Hinn thanked Karnataka Chief Minister N Dharam Singh for participating in the opening day of the prayer meet yesterday.

In a statement here, Hinn also thanked Union Ministers of State Oscar Fernandes and M V Rajasekharan and state Ministers Mallikarjun Kharge, H K Patil, R Roshan Baig and others for taking part in the event.

''Their support and courage will be remembered a long time,'' the statement quoted Coordinating Chairman B G Koshy as saying.

''They have strong leadership and stood by a beleaguered community. The christians and all our secular-minded friends of all faiths are grateful to them,'' he added.

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