No pattern in Karnataka Church attacks: Some self-inflicted
by Somsekhara Commission on 08 Feb 2011 5 Comments
[As soon as the Somsekhara Commission submitted its final report on alleged attacks on churches in Karnataka in 2008, which ruled out any organised Hindu hand in the same, Union Law Minister M. Veerappa Moily upped the ante by demanding a CBI probe into the church attacks (30 Jan. 2011, Indian Express). Deliberately vitiating the atmosphere and displaying the most vicious political bias, Shri Moily called the report a cover up. Simultaneously, the same sort of Christian groups that agitated against some anti-conversions observations of the Supreme Court in the Staines murder case judgment on 21 Jan. 2011 rose in protest to browbeat the Centre into intensifying the witch-hunt against the Yediyurappa government. We publish relevant excerpts of the released portion of the Report to enable readers to make their own judgment – Editor]


This final report should be read as the continuation of the Interim Report since the materials stood then were treated as Prima Facie to record findings on several questions subject to the Final Report which was clearly declared therein at each stage of drawing inferences.


The incidents of attack in various places of worship have occurred in various Districts and the cause, the event and the consequences have not been uniform. Diverse circumstances and varying degree of responses are found in different locations both in terms of people who have perpetrated or been victims and also District Administration. Therefore, the Findings in respect of each incident of attack have been separately recorded and forms the body of the main report. These highlights give only a gist and broad view of the situation and by no means uniformly applicable to all incidents in generality.


The attacks on various places of worship across Karnataka are true and definitely in the Districts of Bangalore, Kolar, Chikkaballapur, Bellary, Davanagere, Chikkamagalur, Udupi and Dakshina Kannada and more particularly in cities of Mangalore and Davanagere.


The extent and magnitude of attacks varies from very little to colossal. (Annexure-XLVII)


Not all attacks were spontaneous or accidental. Some were deliberate, well planned communal antagonism with fundamentalism brewing since several years. The events leading to attacks were many including local groupism, personal, competition in trade, education and political activities.


It is evident that the reprehensible, unjustified and atrocious attack on a monastery in Mangalore (Adoration Monastery) and its ardent pious devotees which is considered as a very holy and sacred place by all denominations of Christians and which stirred their heart and soul and religious sentiments triggered off series of incidents across the state. Some incidents of attack are true, some self inflicted, some make believe, some blown out of proportions and some totally politicalized.


The true Hindus have no role to play in any attack directly or indirectly, but the attacks are indulged in by misguided fundamentalist miscreants of defined or undefined groups or organizations against Christians and Christianity who have mistakenly presumed that they would be protected by the Party in power with their policies at the relevant time.


The concerned Police in all the districts did their best and have been successful in nabbing most of such miscreants and large number of charge sheets have been filed in various Courts which will have to finally adjudicate their identity and culpability.(Annexure-L).


There is no basis to the apprehension of Christian petitioners that the Politicians, BJP, mainstream Sangha Parivar and State Govt. directly or indirectly, are involved in the attacks. In fact no Politician or representative of any political party in the state who politicalized the incidents of attack for their benefits immediately did not come before the Commission with their affidavits or to give evidence or opinion in the matter


The issue of conversions and circulation of derogatory literature with insulting attitude against Hindus has been the recurring impressions of large number of Hindu petitioners and is being projected as the reason for attacks [emphasis ours].


There appears to be no conversions at all by Roman Catholic Churches or its members except for routine purposes like marriage or voluntary instances. But there are clear indications of conversions to Christianity in the districts of Bangalore, Kolar, Chikkaballapur, Bellary, Davanagere, Chikkamagalur, Udupi by few organizations and self styled or self appointed Pastors continuing as Hindus by religion for all benefits of law by circumstances and inducements and as a commercial bargain using unaccounted local and funds of the foreign countries but not necessarily by compulsion or fraud or coercion but definitely by inducements [emphasis ours].


However, even such conversions were only of faith and not of religion in legal or technical sense. But this has damaged the reputation and holy image of the genuine and true Christians in sacred Indian Christianity and their known service and valuable contribution to the nation in various fields and in various ways specially in education and Health. Such activities of some organisations are going on uncontrolled by any law or regulation requiring some legislation to regulate them within the scope of Art 25 of the Constitution of India.


The attack on the churches or places of worship has deeply affected the harmony between the members of Hindu and Christian religions and created suspicion in the minds of each other.


The failure of the District Administration functionaries including Corporation, Municipality, Electricity Board and Village Panchayath authorities in protecting the rights of the religious minorities guaranteed under the Constitution and their interference in their activities by misuse of power is evident and apparent particularly in Bellary and Davanagere Districts as indicated in the report. Their acts of locking the places of worship and preventing the devotees from offering prayers is unprecedented in the history of Administrative process and constitutional Governance.

The impression and allegations that the top Police Officers and the District Administration had colluded with attackers in attacking the churches or places of worship has no merit.


The Police action against the Christian protestors in several incidents were justified except at St. Sebastian Church, Permanur unexplainably excessive and unreasonable and is in violation of the expected norms prescribed. But the same cannot be generalised for all police actions at different locations.


It was imprudent, unreasonable and inexperienced act on the part of the Police to enter into the premises of some Churches in Dakshina Kannada without following legal requirements amounting to violation of religious interests and human rights protected under the Constitution of India. But the saving grace is that there is no evidence to conclude that it was motivated or influenced by any other force.


The impressions and allegations that some local leaders and the Govt did not evince any interest either by local enquiry, spot inspection or by other methods nor tried to console the victims by assuring necessary protection or remedies appear to be reasonable from the point of view of such victims but not totally justified.


The impressions and allegations that the present ruling government is showing cold shoulders to the interest of minority Christian community in Karnataka and try to suppress them for the political ends like vote catching methods has no basis.


The allegations and impressions given to the members of the Hindu religion that Christians are indulging in mischievous activities by commercializing or inducements etc and by using their literature maligning the Hindu Religion, Hindu ancient systems, Hindu sacred beliefs, practices and sentiments appears mostly probable and true at some locations [emphasis ours].


The allegation and the impression that some persons involved in conversions are getting funds from some sources including foreign countries and misuse it for mass conversions of innocent and helpless members of the society belonging to weaker sections is true [emphasis ours].


The proposal of some Hindu Memorialists that all the literatures including the portions of Bible that are anathema to Hindu practices should be banned including banning of conversion has no merit or justification.


The proposal of many Hindu religious people for suitable legislation to prevent practices detrimental to the interest of Hindu religion is justified [emphasis ours].


The plea of many Christian memorialists for taking action as per law against Mr. Mahendra Kumar, the then Convener of Bajrangdal who publicly sought to justify the attacks on Churches is totally justified.


The plea of the Bible Society of India, Bangalore and other Christian Memorialists that the tenets or philosophy of Christianity tested or questioned during inquiry should be excluded from the records by expunging them is accepted and expunged totally and this shall be made applicable to Hindu tenets and religion also.


The suggestion of the learned Advocates for the Govt. and Police and Hindu Memorialists that the Christian places of worship should be brought under some legislation like Hindus and Muslims in the Country for proper regulation and control within the meaning of Art.25 of the Constitution is well founded and accepted [emphasis ours].


The Plea of the learned advocate Mr. Jagadish that the Organizations like Bajrangdal needs identification and registration for legal control deserves acceptance. This may be applied to all such organizations of all religions.


The suggestion of Mr. Ibrahim the learned Advocate that local religions conciliation Committees with statutory powers to be constituted for dealing with religious conflicts is accepted.


The suggestion of Mr. Sathischandra, the learned Advocate for a stringent financial check and audit of the activities of Pastors is totally justified and accepted [emphasis ours]. The Commission suggests and recommends to the Govt to consider and implement the following;


1. The sincerity and commitment of the Govt. to ensure protection to all the religions and their Institutions in the State and particularly in the affected Districts due to attacks detailed in the findings and specially to minority religions in all respects should be spelt out in clear terms without politicization. A suitable unanimous resolution of the State Legislature by all the Political parties is more desirable to satisfy all sections of society as model for the Country.


2. The Govt., through its appropriate high level elected representative, as a first measure, should convince the affected Christian Institutions and persons that it is sensitive to their miseries and sentiments suffered due to unpleasant incidents of attacks in all forms with sympathy, compassion and concern by taking all the religions and Political parties into confidence.


3. The District Administration at all levels should be made liable for all violations in any form and extent of such protection for the past and future.


4. A common modality should be framed and adopted for all the District Administration to deal with all situations of religious matters uniformly, impartially and effectively and speedily.


5. The Intelligence wing of the Govt at least in each District may be geared up with trained personnel, infrastructure, headed by expertise, and commitment to social and religious causes specially to deal with religious conflicts supervised and monitored at least by an Officer of the Division or District of IGP Cadre of the State who should report to the DGP periodically for review and action for implementation once in six months and to be reviewed by the Govt., with a report to be placed on the floor of the House annually for information and discussion and confirmation and for necessary action.


6. An exclusive Police Station with specially trained Police Officers like CBI for religious matters in each District under the control of an exclusive Dy. S.P may be constituted with special powers to effectively function without the interference of the Govt. A special legislation may be made for the purpose if necessary.


7. The State should take all the measures to ensure fundamental rights for freedom of conscience, profession and propagation of religion within the meaning of Art 25 of the Constitution of India in letter and spirit. For this purpose a ‘Commission of Religions’ with statutory powers may be constituted representing all religions through their religious heads and a Registrar of Religions to execute the policies of the Commission through the agencies of the Govt. with its own regulations and decisions binding on the Govt. The Govt. may conduct a special census of religions and their institutions and constitution through the Commission and maintain a record of the same with the Registrar of Religions which will ensure protection and privileges to genuine members of a religious minority and eliminate fraudulent methods of misusing a religious tag for selfish purposes detrimental to the religious interests of the Country within the Constitutional expectations. With this the Registrar must be able to regulate the activities of the respective religions within the meaning of Art 25 and Art 30 of the Constitution.


8. Religious harmony awareness programme may be initiated at village and taluk levels to avoid any expected religious conflicts with elders of all religions constituting peace committees with statutory powers to the members with wide publicity through press and media.


9. Legislations through Special Law within the competence of the State under the Lists of the Constitution may be passed to ensure prevention of Atrocities on any person in the name of Religion in any form and protection of all persons claiming the privileges by virtue of a religion as per law without reference to the conflicting legal consequences. (may be called ‘Prevention and punishments for atrocities on the religions and the faiths Act, 2011 with Rules for immediate implementation through an Ordinance if necessary)


10. The scope of Chapter XV (Sections 295, 295-A to 298) of IPC may be enlarged under the said Special Law with stringent sentences of minimum period of punishment, with no bail and no right of appeal in addition to disqualification to contest in any election or to hold any post or office in any status either for a term or permanently.


11. All Organizations in whatever name or form preaching or practicing any activity against any religion in any form should be under constant scrutiny of the Law enforcing agencies as per law existing or to be legislated with the serious consequences of stringent punishments like recommendations at Sl. No. 9 and 10 above.


12. All materials in any form (electronic also) including literature, books, pamphlets publications the press and media using abusive or insulting expressions directly or indirectly with innuendos touching the religious interests should be prohibited and censured [emphasis ours].


13. Filming and /or televising or playing offending religious sentiments should be totally prohibited and censured as the case may be with stringent legal action as per law if violated.


14. A religion regulatory authority may be constituted under a legislation or executive power of the State for the purpose of recommendations in Sl. Nos. 9 to 13


15. The appropriate Authorities should be instructed to consider and dispose of applications by all religious Institutions or persons pending or made for change of Khatha, licence or permission as per law within a reasonable time with report of Compliance to the Govt. within a short time frame.


16. Compensation of all claims pending or made after the interim report or within a reasonable time hereinafter as recommended for damages to the property or injury to any person during the incidents and thereafter shall be inquired and paid within one month from the date of communication of the recommendations of the Commission by the Govt., by the appropriate authorities like the Dy Commissioner of the Districts deducting any amount already paid as indicated in the report while dealing with petitions of each District.


17. There must be least or no policing regarding all religious matters of all religions and to be handled with care and compassion by taking the religious leaders or heads into confidence and entry into any religious place by the police for any action should be totally prohibited except with the permission or at least in consultation with the religious persons in charge of such places or as per law of Criminal Procedure with search warrant etc..


18. The highlights of this report shall be published immediately thorough a special notification through all methods including press and media (including electronic) as required under the provisions of RTI Act.


19. The recommendations of the Commission are expected to be totally or as far as possible shall be implemented within a period of six months from today with any modification if necessary. A task force under the Chairmanship of this Commission with nominated members representing the Govt, Advocate General or his nominee, some Advocates who participated in the inquiry and assisted by the Secretary of the Commission may be constituted for monitoring the implementation of the report within the time stipulation or at the earliest.


20. Suitable legislations may be passed for implementing the recommendations of the Commission in the proper form.


21. All decisions taken by the Govt. on the recommendations of the Commission and the implementation by the Govt may be published as per the provisions of RTI Act by a special notification.


Place: Bangalore

(Justice B.K. Somasekhara)

Date: 28-01-2011

(Justice B.K. Somsekhara Commission of Inquiry)

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