PANAJI: A copy of a report condemning attacks on Christians in Karnataka by communal forces in 2008 was handed over to the Archbishop of Goa and Daman, Filipe Neri Ferrao, on Tuesday.
The report was prepared by Justice (retd) Michael Saldanha, formerly of the Bombay high court, who relied on the findings of the independent people's tribunal into the events that had occurred.
"Incidents of anti-Christian violence in Karnataka in 2008 were representative of the hidden agenda of the party in power, the BJP, driven by a very strong casteist force," the report stated.
Saldanha said that the matter had raised a national debate on the credibility of judicial commissions. It may be noted that the Justice Somasekhara commission, appointed by the Karnataka state government, exonerated the RSS from the incidents.
Saldanha visited over 400 places and examined almost 3,000 witnesses/victims besides relying on forensic evidence and media reports to draw his conclusions.
"Every one of the attacks and incidents which took place were instigated and pre-planned. They were state-sponsored and were not only supported by the state but were covered up for by the state. The responsibility for this devolves squarely on the home minister B V Acharya and chief minister B S Yediyurappa," stated the report.
"In all the incidents involving violence, the principal culpability rests with the state machinery namely the police department. Not a single instance of violence - be it lathi charge, use of teargas, smashing of vehicles and church property or religious objects - can either be condoned or justified. These are all rank criminal offences for which the concerned officers and staff deserve to be prosecuted. I have named some of the police officers who have crossed all conceivable limits, who, even at this stage, deserve to be suspended, an enquiry held, and dismissed from service and prosecuted. The same applies to the then DC, Mangalore,' the report stated.
'The use of lethal and toxic gas which emanated from teargas shells which were beyond the expiry date by 4 to 6 years was not only criminal but life threatening, and is reminiscent of the use of fascist methods by the Nazis who gassed six million Jews to death. The procurement of pebbles, the arming of the saffron militants with lathis and other deadly weapons and use of these persons against members of the minority community was totally unjustified and criminal,' it further stated.