Inquiry report indicts right-wing Hindu groups for Karnataka church attacks

| February 2, 2010

Right-wing Hindu groups have been held responsible for the series of church attacks in Dakshina Kannada and adjoin districts of Karnataka in the month of September 2008.

Once again ascertaining the growth of Hindu fundamentalism in the BJP-ruled state, the interim report of Justice Somasekhara Commission held Bajarang Dal, Sri Rama Sene and VHP accountable for attacking churches and prayer halls.

Justice Somasekhara Commission was instituted by the government to inquire into the sequence of events and circumstances that led to the attack on churches.

The report, submitted Monday to the state government, censured police officers and district administration for 'colluding' with Hindu extremists, directly or indirectly leading the assault.

"Under guise of preventing Christian protesters, police exceeded powers in ‘lathi’ charge and bursting tear shells. Innocent people like children and women were also victimized unjustifiable," stated the report. "District administration misused power and harmed innocent individuals, assaulting them and damaging their property sometimes resulting in incidents of fire."

It added that the “attacks on churches or places of worship has deeply affected the harmony between the members of Hindu and Christian religions and created suspicion in the minds of each other.”

Justice Somasekhara has made several suggestions to the government, including compensation for the damages to the property, and criminal cases registered against all persons or institutions in regards to the violence be withdrawn.

"Compensation for all claims for damages to the property or injury to any person during the incidents and thereafter shall be inquired and paid within one month from the date of communication of the recommendation," the former High Court judge said.

He also recommended the government to ensure "protection to all religions and their institutions, particularly in the affected districts especially to minority religions."

As a first measure, he says, the government should convince the affected Christian institutions and persons that it shares their miseries and sentiments suffered due to unpleasant incidents of attacks in all forms with sympathy, compassion, and concern.

In addition, he urges the state to take all measures to ensure fundamental rights for freedom of conscience and free profession and propagation of religion within the meaning of Article 25 of the constitution of India in letter and spirit.

He further recommends "all communal organizations in whatever name or form preaching or practicing any activity against any religion in any form be banned."

On charges of conversions by Christians, the commission said that there were indications of massive conversions to Christianity by circumstances, but not by compulsion. They were only conversions of faith and not of religion in a legal or technical sense, the report said.

Meanwhile, Christian leaders in Mangalore submitted a memorandum to Justice Somasekhara appealing for “protection to our various religious, charitable, medical and educational institutions” and also to “apprehend the people behind the attack for which we will be thankful to your good selves.”

"With great disillusionment we are making this representation regarding the treatment being meted out to the members of our community in our district and in spite of several representations and requests we are being repeatedly targeted and our religious places are vandalized by some hardcore fundamentalists without fear of any punishment," said the memorandum, as quoted by Mangalorean.

“We do not want any such incidents to occur since it will leave a trail of violence and destruction which we want to avoid at any costs. Our religious feelings have been trampled once again, we were made to feel like outsiders in our own land and we have not yet come out of its shock. We will not be able to withstand such humiliation and disgrace once more. Hence before any such incidents happen we need to be protected and proper precautionary and preventive measures needs to be taken,” it added.

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Category: Church Security

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