Social welfare department officials on Sunday busted an alleged religious conversion racket in Haleyangadi gram panchayat limits in Mangalore city police limits.
The officials raided ?Ebenezer prayer hall? run by a couple, KJ Joy and Elizabeth, without a licence following complaints of child labour being used on the premises. However, policemen, accompanying the raiding party, ended up cracking a religious conversion racket allegedly run by the couple.
Five children, including four girls, were confined to the hall. One of girls had been allegedly raped by Joy.
Locals stormed the prayer hall and assaulted Joy. However, the police prevented the situation from going beyond their control. Both Joy and Elizabeth were arrested.
The couple had been running the ?prayer hall? on the pretext of rehabilitating destitute children. The locals alleged that the five children had been kidnapped by the couple.
The police said they were looking into all angles. The rape victim said she was goaded every day by the couple to convert to a different religion.
The rescued children were sent to the child protection centre. Cases of wrongful confinement of minors, physical and mental abuse of the children and running a prayer hall without permission of the authorities and polluting the area have been registered against the couple.