Bangalore, Jan. 21: American pastor Benny Hinn launched his controversial three-day prayer meeting, Festival of Blessings, on the outskirts of the city this evening with more than 60 mega-screens and an 1.5 lakh watt sound system criss-crossing the venue.
Among the VIPs at the rally were chief minister Dharam Singh, state minister M.V. Rajasekhar and Maharashtra leader Chhagan Bhujbal. Union minister for programme implementation Oscar Fernandes, his wife and several Congress MLAs were also there.
The venue, Jakkur airfield, was turned into a fortress with more than 10,000 policemen and 2,500 private security personnel standing guard. At least half a million people were accommodated at the venue, spokesperson Sajan George said. Hinn, the founder of the World Outreach Centre in Orlando, Florida, has pledged to donate $250,000 for tsunami victims in South Asia.
This morning, around 500 BJP workers were arrested when they blocked traffic to protest the prayer meeting. Members of the Hindu Jagaran Vedike, which had called a bandh, stoned more than 20 buses of the state transport corporation.