An Andhra Pradesh pastor, Praveen Chakravarthy, who had claimed to have kicked temple murtis (idols) on their heads and converted an entire village to Christianity has been arrested by the state police under various sections of the Indian Penal Code that could even get him life sentence.
According to A S Santosh, president of Hyderabad-based Legal Rights Protection Forum, Chakravarthy was arrested on Tuesday from his hometown Kakinada following a complaint filed by a Guntur resident, Singam Lakshmi Narayana.
This is the first time that the Andhra Pradesh government has cracked down on a Christian preacher, who has claimed to have desecrated idols and indulged in conversion.
The action follows the YSR Congress Party (YSCRP) in the state coming under fire for numerous attacks on temples.
According to the opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP), 128 attacks have taken place against the temples since the YSRCP came to power in May 2019 in Andhra Pradesh.
Santosh told Swarajya that though the Y S Jaganmohan Reddy government coming under pressure for the attacks on temples could be a reason, some of the provisions slapped against Chakravarthy were more serious showing the state government’s intent to act, finally.
Some of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) provisions included by Andhra Pradesh Police in the case filed against the pastor include sedition (Section 124), offences leading to rioting (Section 153), mutiny (Section 505), defiling place of worship (Section 295) and abatement of violence (Section 115).
According to the Legal Rights Protection Forum, at least five cases have been filed against Chakravarthy between 2015 and 2016 and they have been pending in Kakinada and Sarpavaram police stations in East Godavari district.
In 2019, videos of the pastor, who reportedly heads Sylom Blind Centre, did rounds on social media in which he gloated about how he had kicked idols on their heads in his process to convert an entire village to Christianity.
He also boasted about his religious conversion activities in the video that the Legal Rights Protection Forum circulated.
In the video, he claimed how he converted a village to Christianity by first going and staying in the village to teach the gospel. Then the village then becomes a “Christ village” after everyone accepts Christ as saviour.
In the process, the village people remove “tree and stone gods”.
Chakravarthy claimed that “there are many cases in which I had kicked the gods’ heads and I was so happy”.
He claimed that he had created hundreds of Christ villages and was continuing this mission.
The Legal Rights Protection Forum also drew the attention of the Ministry of Home Affairs to the pastor’s claims and sought action.
M.R. Subramani is Executive Editor, Swarajya. He tweets @mrsubramani
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