BJP govt cleared in church attacks

BJP govt cleared in church attacks

Somasekara panel sees no basis to prove Sangh Parivar, government role

BJP govt cleared in church attacks

"There is no basis to the apprehension of Christian petitioners that politicians, the BJP, mainstream Sangh Parivar and the State government are directly or indirectly involved in the attacks," the commission said in its final report submitted to Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa in Bangalore on Friday.

The State had witnessed a series of attacks on churches and prayer halls in September 2008, four months after the BJP government assumed office. Besides deputing study teams, the Centre had issued a stern warning to the State government to ensure protection to lives and assets of the minority communities.

The commission, which launched its investigation from October 2008, has found no merit in the allegations that top police officers and the district administration colluded with attackers in attacking the churches or places of worship.

The Somasekara panel said the main reasons for the attack on churches were circulation of literature derogatory to Hindus and attempts to convert Hindus to Christianity. Some of the attacks were deliberate, well-planned and fuelled by fundamentalism brewing for years.

Though the commission does not point to any particular organisation for the attack, it has found merit in the Christian memorialists' plea to take action against Mahendra Kumar, the then convener of the Bajrang Dal.

The commission has ruled out the involvement of the Roman Catholic Churches or their members in the conversions.  However, the commission has found that there were "clear indications" of conversions to Christianity in the districts of Bangalore, Kolar, Chikkaballapur, Bellary, Davangere, Chikkamagalur, and Udupi by a few organisations and "self-styled" pastors using "unaccounted local and foreign funds."

The panel, however, has been critical of police and civil administration for not treating the Christian protesters sympathetically. Particularly, the commission has found fault with the district administration of Bellary and Davangere for locking the places of worship and preventing devotees from offering prayers.

They termed it “unprecedented in the history of administrative process and constitutional governance”. The panel said the police acted in violation of religious interests and human rights by entering places of worship without following legal requirements.

“The attacks were 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,” the report said.

Yeddyurappa and Home Minister R Ashoka have promised that commission recommendations would be considered at the earliest.

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