'Police hit 6-year-old child with rifle'

Hearing of Justice B K Somasekhara Commission of Inquiry

When police started hitting at Christians, some of us entered into a toilet and we were trapped inside the toilet till 3 pm since it was closed from outside, St Aloysius College lecturer Ashma Monteiro narrated the incident occurred at the Kulshekhar Church and inside the St Joseph School on September 15, 2008.

Giving her witness statement before the Justice B K Somasekhara Commission of Inquiry here on Friday, Monteiro said that police had beaten up women and also two men inside the school building. “My left ear was injured in the police attack and still I suffer from headache,” she said.

Monteiro explained that a group of men were standing inside peacefully and another group was engaged in conversation with the police outside. Many parents were gathered to take their children back home since it was not a holiday for school. All of a sudden, stones were being pelted from outside the gate towards the Church and school campus.

Several parents as well as children too were injured during police lathicharge, she said adding that police also used tear gas shells.

Counsel for the police, Advocate M Narayana Reddy produced a video CD of the incident. Meanwhile, counsel for the witness Advocate M P Noronha objected stating that the CD has been produced late. Moreover, Noronha argued that the content of the CD has no relevance to the incident. However, the CD was exhibited in the court room. Witness Monteiro said that she could recognise only Kulshekhar Church in the CD.

Answering to Government Advocate L N hegde and Prasanna Deshpande, she said that she was not filing affidavit before the Commission under Christian Institution’s pressure.
Further, during the cross examination by the counsel for Bajrangdal, Advocate Jagadish Shenava, she said that those who were wearing saffron shawl were of Bajrangdal organisation. However, men wearing saffron were not seen in the CD, she added.

An argument by Shenava regarding the killing of Swamy Lakshmanananda at Khandamal in Orissa and the allegations that the murder was planned by Christian Missionaries triggered a counter argument by witness’s advocate.

The cross examination on Monteiro has been postponed for a later date. The Commission completed the cross examination on 6 witness, though there was plans to cross examine 24 witness in three days.

Rifle, pistol produced

When witness Ashma Monteiro mentioned about rifle in her statement, a confusion prevailed as to whether she was mentioning about rifle or pistol. Justice B K Somasekhara ordered police to produce a rifle and a pistol to clarify the doubt. Following this, a rifle and pistol was brought from Kadri Police Station and later Monteiro confirmed that the police had used rifle on September 15, 2008.

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