Army’s Military Intelligence (MI) report that not just Muslims, but even Christians were on the radar of Lt. Col. PS Purohit, a key link in the Hindu extremist network and his outfit Abhinav Bharat, which planned attacks in several locations including Orissa and North Karnataka. The Malegaon blast accused & Purohit’s aide Sameer Kulkarni was allegedly behind the killing of 2 Christians in Orissa in August 2008.
The Justice BK Somasekhara Commission Report (JBKSCR) of JBKS Commission has not looked into this angle – The Karnataka attacks could be part of a larger Hindutva plan, coming close on the heels of similar persecution of Christians elsewhere in the country, especially BJP ruled states. Is it a coincidence that the murder of Graham Staines took place less than a month after Swami Aseemanand organized a huge rally in Gujarat ’s Dangs district on Christmas Day in 1998. The attacks on Christians that followed lasted 12 days. If Swami Assemanand is probed a bit more, we should not be surprised, if he divulges plans of the Sangh Parivar to terrorize Christians all over the country. The JBKS Commission should not unwittingly play into the hands of Hindu radicals. A similar pattern can be seen in Christmas eve attacks in Orissa and Maharashtra too, where a godman stirs up Hindus and directs them towards Christians, who persecute the community.
The JBKS Commission far from assuaging the hurt sentiments of the community, has added insult to injury and pays mere lip service, with no justice for the victims. The CSF believes that, after what seemed as anti-conversion remarks of the SC judges in the Staines murder case, Justice BK Somasekhara goes further and runs the risk of being viewed as a spokesperson of the Hindutva brigade. Christians are offended by this report and The Catholic-Christian Secular Forum - CSF will initiate and join protests against it, urging the government not to accept it.
Saffron Terror with State as Accomplice
The JBKS Commission has failed to nail the true culprits, but even worse, it sees no reason to fix criminal culpability on the State for abetting serious crimes, including attempt to murder and religious violence. It is not just the Hindutva forces that it shields, but even worse, it seeks to protect perpetrators, who are part of the official state machinery and are expected to be secular.
The CSF points out that The JBKS Commission had in its interim report submitted in February last year said that "strong impression is created that the members belonging to Bajarang Dal, Sri Rama Sene, and the VHP (Vishwa Hindu Parishad) etc. are mainly responsible for attacking churches or places of worship, mainly in Mangalore and South Canara (Dakshina Kannada) districts spreading to other districts and other parts of the state." However, in its final report the panel exonerates these very groups. Again, The JBKS Commission though absolving Bajrang Dal of the attacks, has held Mahendra Kumar, then Bajrang Dal convenor, guilty of justifying the attacks. He could not have acted alone; and to carry out attacks of such a magnitude, as scores of miscreants would be needed. However, only token or no action has been taken against most. The Hindutva brigade has openly, in the media and at various public forums, gleefully admitted and has taken credit for the anti-Christian attacks.
The Commission places on record – “The failure of the District Administration functionaries in protecting the rights of the religious minorities and their interference in their activities by misuse of power is evident and apparent. Their acts of locking the places of worship and preventing the devotees from offering prayers are unprecedented in the history of Administrative process and constitutional Governance”. The CSF would like to ask - Under whose instructions was all this happening? What were the law-enforcing authorities doing? There are many classic cases of the upholders of the law turning violators. What action has the chief minister taken against the officials, who abetted the crimes? Where did the funds & resources for the attacks come from?
We get the impression that The JBKS Commission has been splurging public money; and citizens are entitled to know how much this BJP’s public relations exercise has cost the exchequer? One of the objectives seems, to put it in The JBKS Commission's own words, is to expel “The impressions and allegations that the present ruling government is showing cold shoulders to the interest of the minority Christian community in Karnataka and is trying to suppress them for their political ends like vote catching methods, which has no basis”!
Divisive & Serious Curbs on Freedom of Religion
There also seems to be a devious ploy in “exonerating” the Catholic Church on the issue of conversion and blaming other Christian denominations for the same. Why was the Catholic Church targeted most and have to bear brunt of the attacks, if the Hindutva ire was directed against other Christian groups? The JBKS Commission states - "The allegations and impressions given to members of the Hindu religion - that Christians are indulging in mischievous activities by commercializing or using inducements, etc; and by using their literature maligning the Hindu Religion - appears mostly probable and true at some locations”. The CSF sees this as a divide and rule policy, which is an attempt to divide Christians and target them selectively. According to The CSF there is no proof of Christians doing this and if it is proved to be so, action as per relevant criminal laws should apply.
The JBKS Commission states, “The allegation and the impression that some persons involved in conversions are getting funds from some sources including foreign countries and misuse it for mass conversions of innocent and helpless members of the society belonging to weaker sections is true”. According to The CSF, this again is a baseless allegation and canard spread by the saffron brigade, mouthed by The JBKS Commission. It further says “The proposal of many Hindu religious people for suitable legislation to prevent practices detrimental to the interest of Hindu religion is justified”. This statement is more suitable coming from a spokesperson of the Sangh Parivar rather than The JBKS Commission.
The JBKS Commission states “The suggestion of the learned Advocates for the Govt. and Police and Hindu Memorialists that the Christian places of worship should be brought under some legislation like Hindus and Muslims in the country for proper regulation and control is well founded and accepted". According to The CSF, again there is no basis and it seems to be part of a plan against Christians to usurp their private property, which is well managed in accordance to existing laws.
The JBKS Commission finds the “suggestion for a stringent financial check and audit of the activities of Pastors is totally justified and accepted. The Commission also calls for some legislation to regulate conversion and religious activities”. This is unthinkable and a gross violation of basic universal human rights, not to mention being unconstitutional and against our fundamental rights.
Don't Not Know Who the Attackers are?!
The JBKS Commission has blamed the attacks on misguided and un-named anti-Christian groups and further admits – “the attacks are indulged in by misguided fundamentalist miscreants, who have mistakenly presumed that they would be protected by the Party in power with their policies at the relevant time". The CSF asks - How did they get that presumption? And yet, The JBKS Commission says that – “There is no basis to the apprehension of Christian petitioners that the politicians, BJP, Sangha Parivar and state government directly or indirectly, are involved in the attacks”. Ample proof, especially by way of videos have been submitted, yet even in cases where The JBKS Commission has found the guilty, it has been careful to stop short and not identify them or call for punishment / action against the culprits.
The CSF, following the proceedings from the very beginning, observed the insincerity of The JBKS Commission. Fr Joseph Menzes of Mariyappana Palya church, which was attacked by miscreants, is upset by the irrelevant questions and queries made by the commission when he deposed before it. "In what way are church's documents or documents related to a cemetery relevant to the commission's terms of reference", he asks. It seems clear that there was never an intention to give justice or arrive at the truth, but rather to provide an instrument to the guilty and help them find an escape route.
The JBKS Commission says an attack on a monastery in Mangalore stirred religious sentiments triggering off series of incidents across the state. This is far from true, as the attacks were not spontaneous, but clearly well planned and orchestrated, supported by the state administration. No prompt action was taken and the miscreants were allowed to go on rampage, with impunity. Over 113 attacks in 29 districts are known. And after this, The JBKS Commission had the audacity to even say that “Some incidents of attack were self inflicted, some make believe, some blown out of proportions and some totally politicized”. The CSF asks – Why would the victims do this? And with what motive or benefit?
The Home Minister & His Police
The JBKS Commission says “concerned Police in all the districts did their best and have been successful in nabbing most of such miscreants and a large number of charge sheets have been filed in various Courts which will have to finally adjudicate their identity and culpability”. According to The CSF, around 200 victims have been charged and the miscreants have gone scot free. The CSF has come to know of an additional 138 attacks in Karnataka, in the last 2 years, after the 2008 religious violence. Stereo-typing, victimization, harassment and profiling of Christians continue, as lakhs of minorities are unsafe in the state and have lost faith in such Commissions. The role of the state home minister, Dr. Acharya & his culpability is amply clear and need no further explanation.
The JBKS Commission mentions – “The impression created incidentally that due to the alleged excesses of the police during the lathi charge etc. in Dakshina Kannada incidents, the innocent people like children, women were also victimized unjustifiably is true in a few instances noted in the report categorically”. It also states that, ”The impression and allegations that the top Police Officers and the District Administration had colluded with attackers in attacking the churches or places of worship has no merit.” Perhaps, The JBKS Commission is not aware of policemen like - Satish Nayak, IPS (Dakshin Karnataka SP), Ganapathy (Mangalore East Inspector) & Jayanth Shetty, DSP (Mangalore Rural) who were let off with merely a warning?
The JBKS Commission further states – “The Police action against the Christian protestors in several incidents were justified except at St. Sebastian Church, Permanur unexplainably excessive and unreasonable and is in violation of the expected norms”. Again it adds – “It was imprudent, unreasonable and inexperienced act on the part of the Police to enter into the premises of some Churches in Dakshina Kannada without following legal requirements amounting to violation of religious interests and human rights protected under the Constitution of India . But the saving grace is that there is no evidence to conclude that it was motivated or influenced by any other force.” The CSF asks – Would police leave evidence? What motivation could one expect for the police to behave in such a manner? If police entering other places of worship, like the Golden Temple or a mosque is not tolerated, how could they dare desecrate the churches?
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