Christians Brave Downpour To Protest Commission Report On Church Attacks
By Amarnath Dinesh Roy, SAR NEWS
BANGALORE, Karnataka (SAR NEWS) – Thousands of Christians braved sudden showers February 21 to protest against the Justice Somasekara Commission report that had absolved the culprits involved in the attacks on Christians in different parts of Karnataka in 2008.
Around 12,000 people, including bishops, priests, nuns, pastors and heads of various Churches from Bangalore, Chikkaballapur, Doddaballapur, Tumkur, the Kolar Gold Fields and other villages in Bangalore Archdiocese converged on St Francis Xavier’s Cathedral under the banner of Karnataka United Christian Forum for Human Rights slamming the Justice Somasekara commission Report for its bias and failure to identify the culprits who terrorised the Christian community.
This is the second such rally in the State following massive protests February 20 by the Christians in Mangalore, the target of most of the attacks on churches by alleged Hindu fundamentalists.
President of the Karnataka United Christian Forum for Human Rights, Archbishop Bernard Moras said: “Even though Christians form a minuscule minority in this country, they have contributed immensely in educations, healthcare and social welfare. And Christians have played an important role in the framing of the Constitution as members of the constituent Assembly. But today, we are saddened by the attacks on us.”
The archbishop further said that the State Government led by the Bharatiya Janata Party had recently celebrated one thousand days in power, but every third day there has been an attack on Christians — from September 2008 there has been over 300 such attacks across Karnataka. The attacks were well planned and systematically executed.
The organisations’ and the miscreants had the patronage of the authorities.” Condemning the Justice Somasekara Commission that was set up by the government to probe the church attacks, the prelate said: “The Commission has made a U-Turn from the interim report and has given the final report totally absolving everyone. Instead of pointing out the perpetrators, especially the Sangh Parivar and Rama Sene, the Commission has only pointed fingers at those who have not done anything. It relied only on material evidence and did not conduct an independent investigation. The report is highly propagandist and communal. The Commission says the reason for attacks was religious conversion through inducements.”
The bishops of Karnataka tried meeting Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa but were denied an appointment, Archbishop Moras said adding that he did not even receive any response from the chief minister.
He urged the Christians “not to be intimated by any threats or attacks; let us boldly profess, practise and propagate our Faith…For, we are Christians and we must uphold our Constitutional
In his message, Church of South India Moderator, Rev. Vasanth Kumar, said: “We may have come from different denominations, but we follow Christ. Our rights as citizens of India are threatened. It is important that we stand up for our right; we have become Christians on
our own free will.
“We are Indians and not foreigners. We too are privileged to enjoy the fundamental Rights and it is the duty of the government to uphold our right. People of all religions preach and practise their religion.
Preaching happens in every religion. Why deny that right to preach our religion? Nothing will stop us from spreading our religion. For it is both a word of the Lord and a provision under the Indian Constitution.
As Christians, we love peace and we are attacked in the name of religion. We will pray for them, we will not retaliate.” The massive rally closed with a candle-light pledge — “We will profess Christian Faith, promote Christian unity and uphold the Constitutional rights.”
Secretary to Karnataka United Christian Forum for Human Rights, Ronnie Prabhu, said: “Justice Somasekara has denied justice to us. We must thank him because of him we have come together, united. It is important we have a strong voice and stand united so that the government does not take us Christians for granted”.
Karnataka United Christian forum for Human Rights Public Relations Officer, Faustin Lobo, spoke about the failures of the Commission report. He pointed out the blatant omissions and the biased inquiry undertaken by it.