KARNATAKA

Attack on churches: 74 affidavits received in Udupi district

FOR ACTION: B.K. Somasekhara (right), who is heading the commission inquiring into the attacks on churches, receiving affidavits from petitioners in Udupi on Thursday.

FOR ACTION: B.K. Somasekhara (right), who is heading the commission inquiring into the attacks on churches, receiving affidavits from petitioners in Udupi on Thursday.  

Staff Correspondent

200 petitions filed in Dakshina Kannada



Panel to seek six more months for submitting report

DC directed to keep a box for people’s complaints



Udupi: The judicial inquiry commission, headed by retired High Court judge B.K. Somasekhara, which was appointed by the State Government to inquire into the attacks on certain places of worship in the State, held a public meeting at Deputy Commissioner’s office here on Thursday.

As many as 74 affidavits were received at Deputy Commissioner’s office here. According to Secretary (Administration and Communications) N. Vidyashankar, who was there at the meeting, the commission had received over 200 affidavits in Dakshina Kannada.

Mr. Somasekhara said that the commission intended to submit an interim report to the Government. Of the three months’ time given by the Government to submit the report, two had already elapsed. The commission was contemplating on seeking a six-month extension. The commission had received 300 affidavits. It had visited 13 churches/prayer halls in Udupi and Dakshina Kannada districts in the last three days. The remaining places of worship would be visited during the next visit. Representatives of the Hindutva organisations and local Christian organisations began giving their views after Mr. Somasekhar’s speech.

Ramesh Kotian of Dalit Sangharsha Samiti (DSS) said that it had become difficult for Dalits to build houses on lands granted to them as they were being harassed by the people of upper castes and Government officials in the district. He was not allowed to have his meal at a temple, he said. Honorary president of Udupi district unit of Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) Raghavendra Acharya said that not a single church was attacked in the district. The New Life Fellowship was creating nuisance in the district and it had been disowned by other Christians, he said. However, Mr. Acharya’s statement was contested by a Christian who said that a church at Kota had been attacked.

President of Karnataka Full Gospel Pastors Association E.W. Frank said that many people did not know the meaning of church. A church was not a building. It was a place of worship. Nobody could say New Life Fellowship was not a church, he said. Madhukar Mudrady, a Hindutva activist, said that many poor Hindus were being converted. A petition had been filed at Deputy Commissioner’s office in 2004 about the problems created by the New Life Fellowship. The Christian schools were not allowing students to wear traditional dresses of Hindus, including “Langa and Davani”, he said. Writer G. Rajashekhar said that he was a Hindu and a Brahmin. He had been living in Udupi for a long time.

The allegations made by the Hindutva organisations were baseless.

He said that no illegal activities were being carried out in Christian institutions as had been alleged. “There is no police complaint on the alleged activities being attributed to them,” he said.

Satish, a businessman, said that the police van stationed in front of the Krishna Kripa Shopping Complex in Udupi to protect the New Life prayer hall had affected the business in the shops in the complex. To this, the pastor of the prayer hall Gopinath said that prayers were being conducted there only on Sundays and that might not have caused problems for anyone.

Sensing that the situation was getting out of the way, Mr. Somasekhara ruled that he would only go by the affidavits submitted to him.

In reply to a question, Mr. Somasekhara said that permissible allowances to meet travelling and other expenses would be paid to those called by the commission to appear for deposition in Bangalore. Mr. Somasekhara directed Deputy Commissioner P. Hemalatha to keep a box in her office to receive affidavits from people.

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