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Christians did not invade Hindu temple to pray, police say

A video of what some claim are Christian missionaries praying in a Hindu temple in India isn’t quite what it appears to be, police say.

India Today reports that police said that the prayers were actually outside the temple premises.

Andhra Pradesh police issued a clarification after a video of Christian missionary groups holding prayers inside a temple in Gangavaram village went viral on Friday. The police said a resident had been conducting Christian prayers on the road beside a temple and the prayers were not held inside the temple premises.

The video went viral amongst Hindus in India, including in a Tweet shared by Vishnu Vardhan Reddy, a senior leader in India’s BJP party, who posted, “There’s no place for Hindus in Andhra Pradesh. A pastor illegally occupied a Ram temple in Gangavaram & conducting Christian Prayer in it. This is happening due to the appeasement politics of @YSRCParty govt. We demand strict action against the culprits.

BJP National Secretary Sunil Deodhar also Tweeted about the alleged the incident, saying it was pushing a “conversion agenda” and that “all culprits must immediately be arrested.”

 

The Hindu reports that investigators found that the claim of a temple invasion was the result of a campaign by a family member of the woman who organized the service; the reason for the campaign was because the family member disagreed with her about spending money for prayer services. The newspaper’s fact check of the BJP leaders’ Tweets says the woman leading the service has reportedly done similar street prayers for several years, and villagers who live near the temple consider it “a regular affair.”

“We have investigated the facts. The prayer was not conducted inside the Ram Mandir. It was conducted in front of it and it has been the practice for over four years in the village. The woman, Kada Mangayamma, lives next to the Ram Mandir and she conducts the prayer in front of her house, which is adjacent to the Ram Mandir”, said Mr. Raveendranath Babu. On the night of March 30, Ms. Mangayamma and others gathered for prayer in front of her house.

 

The fake campaign was kickstarted by Ms. Mangayamma’s family member following an argument with her on the expenditures being borne by her for the prayers. “We appeal to the public to stop the fake campaign and help maintain the religious harmony in the village”, said Mr. Raveendranath Babu.

Photo: Screengrab from Twitter video posted by @SVishnuReddy

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