National

Karnataka Govt abetted church attacks

An independent inquiry by a former HC judge in the 2008 church attacks in Karnataka contradicts report submitted by the BK Somasekhara panel on 28 January appointed by the Karnantaka government.

Justice MF Saldanha in his 308 page report has held Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa and Home Minister BV Acharya responsible for allowing the attacks to continue. Probe panel appointed by the Karnataka government had given a clean chit to the state government. Saldanha has prepared the report on behalf of People’s Union for Civil Liberties and Transparency International. The finding of the report says that the attacks on the churches were pre-planned and state sponsored by the BJP led government.

The report has also mentioned that the state police did nothing to stop desecration of statues of Jesus Christ taking place in their presence. The report says, “As far as the saffron activists are concerned, the Bajrang Dal leader and the leader of the Sri Rama Sene have at all times boldly and openly admitted that it was their organisations which had undertaken all the attacks. The evidence clearly established that as far as Dakshina Kannada and Udupi districts are concerned, the RSS [Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh] was involved.” Cardinal Oswald Gracias said that the people in Karnataka favoured a CBI probe into the attacks. He further said, “It was more than a Christian issue, since it had raised a national debate on the credibility of such judicial commissions, which served obvious purposes. In the case of Karnataka, it seems apparent that a massive cover-up exercise was underway and this did not augur well for India, which hopes to take its rightful place at the top among developed nations. Thus, Michael Saldanha had done a great service not just for the minorities, but for the country.”

Justice Saldanha prepared his report after visiting 400 places and questioning 3000 witnesses and victims. He also relied on forensic evidence and media reports. “Each one of the attacks and incidents were instigated and pre-planned. They were state-sponsored and not only supported by the state but were also covered up by the state. The responsibility of this devolves on Home Minister V.S. Acharya and Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa,” the report asserts. Joseph Dias of The Catholic Secular Forum said, “The Karnataka riots are part of a wider plan of radical Hindutva elements targeting the Christian community after the Muslim community. You have seen this in all the BJP-ruled States.”

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 16-31 March 2011 on page no. 8

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