Bangalore, Jan 18 : Karnataka Chief Minister N Dharam Singh today rejected calls for banning the controversial American evangelist Benny Hinn‘s three-day programme here from Friday, as BJP stepped up pressure seeking its cancellation and the pastor’s arrest.
Singh told reporters here that there was no scope under the Constitution to ban religious programmes but hastened to add that the Government would take a serious view and act if the programme hurts sentiments and becomes a law and order problem.
On several pontiffs in Karnataka protesting the “Festival of Blessings-Pray for India” event and threatening dharna here tomorrow, the Chief Minister said he would first seek to ascertain their views on the issue.
Asked if he is participating in the congregation at Jakkur airfield, where the organisers said lakhs of people from India and abroad would gather, Singh said he was yet to receive the invitation, indicating that he was keeping his options open.
Meanwhile, the main opposition BJP in the State demanded that the programme be banned and Hinn be arrested, accusing of making fradulent claims about miracle healing and deceiving people.
Maintaining that Hinn’s claims about miracle-healing had been exposed as being “bogus” and the experience of healing found to be “untrue” by the international media, BJP National General Secretary H N Ananth Kumar said the State Government should also conduct a probe into it.
Jan. 18, 2005