Panel blames officials, police

Finds 9 out of 10 cases of attacks on churches in Davangere to be true

In one case, no attack had taken place but devotees were harassed, the commission revealed in its report submitted to the State government on Friday.

The report also gives details of 57 churches/prayer halls that were attacked in nine districts across the State, and blames some officials for their “lackadaisical attitude” in naming the vandals.

A case in point is the Parishuddha Prarthanalaya in Davangere where the commission found that the police and gram panchayat officials “acted unreasonably, cruelly and illegally with a wrong understanding of the law and the purpose of their functions, and with imprudence coupled with ignorance of the consequences”.

However, there is nothing on record to indicate that either the government or the ruling BJP directly or indirectly had anything to do with such attacks. The superintendent of police and the police in general did their best to deal with the matter appropriately and carefully, says the report.

Referring to the Jesu Prayer Hall, the report says the petitioner, Denzil, has identified nine persons, purportedly belonging to the Hindu Jagarana Vedike, as those responsible for the attacks. The police -- who did not either prevent or protect the petitioner and devotees in the church -- registered a criminal case very late.

The district administration and the corporation commissioner were “unreasonable, biased and negligent in dealing with the matter. Their conduct is clearly repugnant to Article 25 of the Constitution,” the commission states.

It recommends that the police prosecute all the culprits for religious offences, and the government issue directions to the district administration and others to hold a departmental inquiry against all the persons responsible for the injustice done to the petitioner and others.

The report reveals that the attack on the Resurrection God’s Ministries Trust, including the burning of a temporary shed of the petitioner, was true. The grama panchayat chairman, its members and the executive officer, supported by the local police, were responsible for the attack and harassment of the petitioner.

The officials “unjustly disconnected electricity to the petitioner’s residence for a year. The district administration and the police who were hostile to the petitioner should tender a written apology to the petitioner. The petitioner should be adequately compensated for all the miseries he has suffered”.

The commission held that the executive officers of the grama panchayat and the Appellate Authority deliberately did not change the khatha of the property in the name of the petitioner on lame grounds not known in law, or based on facts. The Authority adopted a totally strange procedure in dealing with the appeal either due to ignorance or due to hostility towards him or due to the influence of some extraneous agency in the district administration, the report says.

“He does not deserve to hold any independent or responsible post at least for five to ten years, nor should he be considered for any service benefit till he is properly trained and examined by some competent authority. He deserves some punishment for the misconduct after a departmental inquiry,” the report said.

In addition, the commission has recommended to the government to regulate the activities of the petitioner and audit his funds.

With regard to Yesu Kripalaya, Jakkalli village, Channagiri taluk, the commission has said the issue of notices by the police and the Somalapura grama panchayat to the petitioner to stop prayers, legally amounts to attack on the church, and should be withdrawn immediately.

The officers concerned should be warned in writing that repetition of such acts would be dealt with seriously.

‘Attacks colossal, atrocious’

In Dakshina Kannada, 32 churches were attacked. And the first one was the Adoration Monastery in Mangalore. The Justice Somasekara Commission has found that the attack was “colossal, atrocious, vandalistic... and deliberately desecrated.”

Workers of Bajrang Dal led by Mahedra Kumar, or Hindus angered by alleged conversions by Christians attacked the church. The church building and statues were desecrated and two nuns and devotees badly assaulted.

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