Staff Correspondent

Commission favours withdrawal of all cases in ‘public interest’

‘Strong impression’ of collusion of officials with outfits cited

Report contains 20 suggestions and recommendations to the Government

MANGALORE: Justice B.K. Somasekhara Commission of Inquiry, probing attacks on Christian prayer halls in 2008, has submitted its interim report, in which it does not clearly identify the perpetrators.

It has said that “a strong impression is created” that Sangh Parivar groups are mainly responsible for the attacks and that the top police officials and the district administration colluded with these groups “directly or indirectly”.

The commission has favoured withdrawal of all cases “registered, investigated or charge-sheeted against all persons or institutions for the incidents of attacks” in the “public interest”, citing power of pardon and clemency as embedded in the Constitution. It has also called for a ban on any literature that uses “abusive or insulting expressions, either direct or with innuendo, touching religious interests”.

Justice Somasekhara handed over the 500-page interim report to Abhijith Das Gupta, State Additional Chief Secretary and State Home Secretary, here on Monday.

The 15-page synopsis contains a set of 20 suggestions and recommendations to the Government, which he read out.

The commission pointed out that “in some incidents there were indications of self-infliction or collusion or make-believe methods to create evidence of attack on churches or places of worship to support such things in other districts or places”.

Conversions

It said “in some incidents, there were indications of massive conversions to Christianity by circumstances and inducements but not by compulsion. Such conversions were only of faith and not of religion in legal or technical sense”.

Stating that the attacks on churches or places of worship had deeply affected the harmony between Hindus and Christians, it said: “A strong impression is created that members belonging to Bajrang Dal, Sri Rama Sene and Vishwa Hindu Parishad are mainly responsible in attacking churches or places of worship mainly in Mangalore and Dakshina Kannada district spreading to Udupi, Chickmagalur, Davangere, Bellary, Dharwad, Bangalore, Kolar and Chickaballapur districts. The other so-called attacks were only make-believe.”

“An impression is given that the top police officers and the district administration and other authorities and panchayat heads, specially in Dakshina Kannada, Bellary and Davangere, colluded with the members of the Bajrang Dal and Sri Rama Sene, directly or indirectly, in attacking the churches or places of worship.”

“In Dakshina Kannada in particular, police exceeded their power in lathi-charge and bursting of tear-gas shells putting the worshippers in the churches to very harsh treatment…,” it said.

The key suggestions and recommendations include spelling out in clear terms without “politicalisation” the Government’s commitment to ensure protection to all religions and their institutions in the State, particularly in the affected districts. It has also sought a ban on all communal organisations “in whatever name or form preaching or practising any activity against any religion in any form”. It said that the intelligence wing of the Government should be strengthened in each district.

Sittings

N. Vidyashankar, secretary to the commission, said that it had received 1,019 affidavits. It inquired 731 witnesses in 170 sittings from January 7, 2009, till last December end. In all, 31 advocates participated in the sittings.

The commission asked Mr. Das Gupta to pass on the report to Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa. He gave a copy of it to Mr. Gupta to hand over to Home Minister V.S. Acharya. Another copy was handed over to S. Siddalingesh, Secretary, Law, Justice and Human Rights to hand over to S. Suresh Kumar, Minister for Law, Justice and Human Rights.

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