Saturday, January 29, 2011

BJP highjjacked the commission investigating Church attack

Bangalore : Union Law Minister M Veerappa Moily today accused the BJP government of having "hijacked" the judicial commission that gave a clean chit to the party and Sangh parivar outfits for attacks on churches in Karnataka in 2008 and said a CBI probe should be ordered into the case.

"Ruling BJP has hijacked the commission and had failed to protect minority Christians in the state," Moily said over the findings of B K Somashekara Commission of Inquiry.

In its final report submitted yesterday, the commission had failed to name the organisations involved in the attacks and hence CBI should be entrusted with the probe, he said.

The attacks on churches in seven districts across the state had caused a major embarrassment to the first-ever BJP government in the south barely four months after it assumed office following which the judicial inquiry was ordered.

Speaking to reporters, Moily demanded that Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa should immediately order a CBI probe as "truth cannot be suppressed and a thief is a thief."

"Just because a commission gave a report, truth cannot be buried, it should come out and the state government should make sincere efforts (towards it)," the former Karnataka chief minister said.

Moily said the commission's final report should be read with the interim report and there were contradictions between the two.

"Always any Commission's final report should be taken into account along with the interim report. In this case, it was very clear in the interim report submitted in February 2010 where there was mention about involvement of Bajarang Dal and failure on the part of police and district administrations in discharging their duties," he claimed.

In its report that came as a relief to BJP, the commission had cited circulation of derogatory literature with "insulting attitude" towards Hindus and issues of conversion as the main reasons for the attacks.

It said there was no basis to the apprehension of the Christian petitioners that politicians from BJP, mainstream Sangh Parivar and state government were directly or indirectly involved in the attacks.

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Law Minister slams probe report on attack on Christians in Karnataka

New Delhi:  Law Minister Veerappa Moily has slammed the probe report on church attacks in Karnataka and called it a "failure."

In some good news for the beleaguered BJP government in Karnataka, the commission set up to investigate a series of attacks on churches in 2008 said on Friday that neither the government nor the police can be faulted.

The report submitted by the one-man commission states: "There is no basis to the apprehension of Christian petitioners that the politicians, BJP, mainstream Sangh Parivar and state government directly or indirectly, are involved in the attacks."

That leaves Karnataka wondering who exactly vandalized its churches in eight different districts. The report dodges that bullet, stating, "The attacks are indulged in by misguided fundamentalist miscreants of defined or undefined groups or organisations against Christians and Christianity who have mistakenly presumed that they would be protected by the party in power with their policies at the relevant time."

In September 2008, churches were vandalized in different parts of Karnataka like Mangalore, Udupi, Kolar, Bellary. 

BK Somasekhara, a former judge, was assigned to investigate the attacks by the newly-elected BJP government which was confronting its first major crisis. 

"This is not an attack on Christians. This is an attack against conversions, against those who hurt Hindu feelings," Mahendra Kumar had said at the time. He was then the convener of the Bajrang Dal and he seemed uninhibited about justifying the offense.     

Christians in the state describe Somasekhara's findings as a please-all pardon.  "It has given a clean chit to everybody. As you are aware, our churches were attacked, innocent people were attacked," said Father Jayanathan, Vicar General, Archdiocese of Bangalore.

The Chief Minister, BS Yeddyurappa, is currently dealing with multiple allegations of corruption and persistent demands for his resignation by the Opposition. There's also a public and shrill war between the government and the Governor of the state, who has sanctioned the Chief Minister's prosecution. So he was cautious in discussing the developments.

"The Home Ministry will examine what the government should do further in this regard. Till then, it's not appropriate to discuss any other point at this stage," he said.

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Hindu terror team targeted Christians: Report

New Delhi : Not just Muslims, Lt Colonel Prasad Srikant Purohit and his Abhinav Bharat also targeted Christians in several locations including Kandhamal in Orissa, North Karnataka, Pune, Jabalpur and Bhopal. And that Malegaon blast accused and Purohit’s key aide Sameer Kulkarni was allegedly behind the killing of two Christians in Orissa in August 2008.

This revelation comes in the Military Intelligence (MI) report of the Army based on the interrogation of Purohit, himself one of the prime accused in the 2008 Malegaon blast and a key link in the Hindu extremist network.

The report, a copy of which is with The Indian Express, said that Malegaon blast co-accused Sadhvi Pragya Singh confronted Purohit during his joint interrogation by MI, the Maharashtra ATS and the Intelligence Bureau at a safe house in Khandala on October 30, 2008.

“She mentioned that the Army officer had met her on October 5, 2008, and confessed to have orchestrated the Malegoan blast, killing of two persons in Orissa in August 2008 and arson in North Karnataka. The officer admitted to having made such statements to Sadhvi Pragya but attributed these outbursts to his boasting about the Malegaon incident. But, later, during the same confrontation he admitted that this outfit had killed two persons in Orissa through Sameer Kulkarni, a full-time activist of Abhinav Bharat,” the MI report stated.

Sameer Kulkarni was called Chanakya by Purohit, a generic name given to those part of the military wing of Abhinav Bharat.

“Responsible for covert operations, the RSS activist was instrumental in breaking influential RSS and VHP workers towards Abhinav Bharat. He is known to be associated with the core group who had undertaken the IED blast in Ajmer in 2007. In March 2008, he accompanied Ramji Kalsangra and Sandeep Dange to Purohit’s residence in Panchmarhi. Police records confirmed his involvement in anti-Christian riots in Pune, Jabalpur and Bhopal. Lt Col Purohit admitted that on behalf of Abhinav Bharat, Sameer killed two Christians in Orissa in August 2008. This act indicated that Lt Col Purohit wanted to establish an organisation with aggressive anti-Christian stance,” the MI report said.

That Abhinav Bharat had become the hub of ultra right Hindu forces is evident from the fact that extremist organisations like Sreeram Sena and Hindustan Rashtriya Sena wanted Purohit’s organisation to merge with their outfits.

“During December 22, 2007-January 2, 2008, Lt Col Purohit participated in a meeting called by Swami Aseemanand at Anil Mahajan’s house in Pune. The meeting was attended by Vilas Pawar of Sreeram Sena, Karnataka, Pramod Muttalik of Hindustan Rashtriya Sena, Bharat Rateshwar aka Bharat Bhai of Gujarat, Dr Seetharamaiah of Andhra Pradesh, Sudhakar Chaturvedi and Ajay Rahirkar. During the meeting, Swami Aseemanand made an attempt to merge Abhinav Bharat with existing organisations but consensus could not be reached,” the report stated.

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Friday, January 28, 2011

Press release on Report of Justice Somashekar Enquiry Commission on Church Attacks

January 28, 2011


Sub: Report of Justice Somashekar Enquiry Commission on Church Attacks

(Comments made on the basis of T.V.Report and before reading the full Commission Report)

We are disappointed that the Enquiry Commission has failed to name and pin point the attackers who attacked the Churches with the plea for lack of evidence, which is incorrect.

1. The attacks were pre-meditated and not spontaneous:

These attacks were not spontaneous in one place but it was a very well planned scheme which the perpertrators could execute simultaneously in different places of the District of Dakshina Kannada and the neighbouring districts. This could have been done only by an Organisation and not an individual.

2. The Government is fully responsible for these attacks which could have been prevented:

The Intellegence Department either was extremely inefficient or in spite of their knowledge which was given to the superiors (Government), the Government has deliberately ignored it knowing fully well such attacks were forthcoming. Therefore the Govt. is to be held fully responsible for these attacks.

3. The evidences given to the Commission and the failure of the give justice:

Three types of evidences were given to the Commission by the Victims/different Organisations including the Karnataka Missions Network.

a) Oral evidence by the Victims/Witnesses.

b) Pictures/Videos

c) Telecast Clippings of the Media

In all these evidences, it was abundantly made clear the direct police involvement in supporting the attackers/damaging the Church Properties and beating of Parishioners, inside the Church premises. How could the Commission could so blatantly ignore all these evidences and give a clean chit to the Police, unless there is some hidden agenda or the pressure from the authorities?

The centre of controversy of the start of the attacks was projected to be the book SATYADARSHINI written by Mr.Suryanarayana Paravastu , in Telugu in 1987 and translated into Kannada, a decade later. However, attention was brought on it only after the attacks in 2008(several years after the publication during which period there was no unrest). The Govt.strongly contended in the early stages that this was the main cause of the attacks specifically blaming New Life Churches as having distributed copies of this book, which was never proved at the Enquiry by the Commission though the Sangh Parivar (Bajrang Dal and others) went on alleging that it has hurt the sentiments of Hindu religion. The Commission could not establish these false allegations. Therefore, the very basis of the contention that these attacks were because of the said literature is not tenable. This was only a trumped up excuse to start the attacks with a future plan of action in view. The Sangh Parivar had determined to attack Christians/Churches with the forethought of banning all Christian literature.

As such, we the Christian Community fear that any Christian Literature would be labelled as provocative and the Govt. will go to the extent of banning all types of Christian Literature. This will amount to forcible suppression of practicing and propagating one’s religion which has been enshrined in the Indian Constitution.

4. False accusation of Conversions by force/co-ersion/enticement:

The above accusations are utterly false because there has not been even a single case of such conversion which the Christians know as unlawful. The Commission knows fully well that not even a single such case has been reported anywhere.

5.The Commission is very unfair to the Suffering Christian Community:

We believe that the Commission is fully aware of who the attackers are and also the atrocities committed by the police. But, it has deliberately closed its eyes to the truth. So, we consider the findings of this Commission is just an eye-wash (as desired by the Govt.) especially trying to exonerate the known attackers and thei r sympathizers in the Govt.

6. What next?

We the Christian Community hope that we will get justice and in keeping with the motto of the country – JUSTICE WILL PREVAIL.


Karnataka Missions Network

Church attacks: Panel gives clean chit to BJP, Sangh Parivar

The Justice Somasekhara Commission of Inquiry into a series of attacks on churches in parts of Karnataka in 2008 has given a "clean chit" to the ruling BJP and Sangh Parivar outfits.

"There is no basis to the apprehension of Christian petitioners that politicians, BJP, mainstream Sangh Parivar and state government directly or indirectly are involved in the attacks", the one-man commission said in its final report submitted to the Government today.

According to the report submitted to Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa, circulation of derogatory literature with "insulting attitude" against Hindus and issues of conversion were the main reasons behind the attacks.

The churches were attacked in the districts of Mangalore, Udupi, Chikamagalur, Kolar, Chikkaballapur, Bellary and Davangere during September 2008.

The commission found fault with the authority's act of locking the places of worship and preventing devotees from offering prayers as "unprecedented in the history of administrative process and constitutional governance".

Home Minister R Ashok and Law Minister S Suresh Kumar were also present when the report was submitted.

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Friday, January 21, 2011

Supreme court agrees with life sentence for Dara Singh

New Delhi:  The Supreme Court has upheld the life sentence for Dara Singh for killing Australian missionary Graham Staines and his two sons in Orissa in 1999. Singh's accomplice, Mahendra Hembram, has also been sentenced to life in prison.

The CBI wanted the death sentence for Singh, who was linked with Hindu right-wing group Bajrang Dal.

The Staines family was burnt alive in Keonjhar. Graham Staines had worked with leprosy patients in Orissa for 30 years. He was sleeping with his sons, aged 8 and 10, in a car on their way home on a cold December night. A mob in Manoharpur village poured petrol over the Staines' car and set fire to it.

The Staines tried to escape, but a mob of about 50 people allegedly prevented them.

The Supreme Court said, "We hope Mahatma Gandhi's vision of religion playing a positive development integrating into  a prosperous nation will be realized. There is no justification from interfering in someone's belief through force, conversion or false premise that one religion is better than the other."

In 2003, a trial court in Khurda convicted all 13 accused. While Dara Singh was awarded the death sentence, the others were sentenced to life in prison.

In 2005, the Orissa High Court commuted Singh's sentence to life. The High Court convicted Hembram along with Singh, and acquitted 11 others.

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