Panel examines 19 affidavits on 1st day of hearing

Justice B K Somasekhara Commission of Inquiry on church attacks in Mangalore

Speaking at the Chief Examination Sitting conducted by the Commission at the Circuit House here on Monday, Mahishi said that while the Commission has received a total of 995 affidavits across the State, 551 were from Dakshina Kannada district. A total of 49 witnesses and 757 documents were already examined in the district, she added.
The Commission, which was set up by the government to conduct inquiry into the cases of attack on Christian prayer centres and its aftermath on September 19, 2008, through a notification, had already visited 25 places in the State, Mahishi said. It also conducted sittings at Bangalore, Kolar, Chikballapur, Mangalore-Udupi and Davangere, she added.
A total of 74 witnesses will be examined in 4 days, Mahishi informed adding that the cross examination will be held after the completion of examination sittings. Out of the total 19 affidavits examined on Monday, 15 witnesses appeared before the commission for examination.

Expired tear gas grenade
People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) activist Melville Pinto produced an empty cartridge of tear gas grenade expired in December 2002, and stated before the Commission that the police had used the expired tear gas grenade near Milagres Church against Christians on September 14. Pinto said that after collecting the empty cartidge of the tear gas shell from the Church premises, he fell sick and was hospitalised due to its poisonous affect.
Pinto further complained that he had received 4 threatening calls from an anonymous person on same day.
Ronald D’Souza, a resident of Kalladka, explained that he was assaulted by a group of 8-10 miscreants and also damaged his vehicles and shop on September 15.  

‘Miscreants said Sri Ram’

Pastor of Mahima Prayer Hall, Belthangadi, Fr Antony Rodrigues stated during the examination that those who attacked the prayer hall on September 14, were shouting slogans ‘Jai Bajarang Dal’, ‘Jai Sri Ram’ and ‘Yeshuvige Dhikkara’.

Prakash Vas, a plumber from Permude village, alleged that local Hindu organisations including Bajrang Dal were also behind the police lathicharge where he was beaten up severely on September 15.

Sister C Christella, a retired teacher from Vamanjur, clarified that the fundamentalist organisation which she blamed for the attacks in her affidavit was Bajrang Dal.
Bajpe Church Assistant Priest Fr Anil Prakash D’Silva demanded action against police and Bajrang Dal activists who were responsible for the attacks.

An affidavit signed by 25 Christian community members alleged that the Holy Cross at Bondanthila was demolished on September 14.

One of the siganatory Don Prakash Saldanha appeared before the Commission.

Policemen beat women

Presilla D’Silva, a beautician from Bajpe, blamed that the policemen beat women during a protest at Bajpe on September 15.
She brought to the notice of the Commission that women constables were not deployed at the spot during the time and policemen beat women brutally.

Confidential letter

Bajpe Church Assistant Priest Fr Anil Prakash D’Silva produced a letter he received through post before the Commission, which according to him was a confidential message being circulated among Hindu organisations.

Speaking to Deccan Herald, Fr D’Silva said that the letter contains 34 point directions to Hindu outfit members to destabilise the communal harmony in the region.
He said that the letter asks Hindu outfit members to be prepared with weapons.
D’Silva said that the letter written in English and Hindi must have been sent to some Hindu outfit members by their senior leaders.

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