Bishops take up cudgels with CM *Justice Saldanha takes up Temple Donations issue

November 1, 2011 by  
Filed under India, Karnataka, newsletter-lead, Persecution

Archbishop Bernard Moras

Archbishop Bernard Moras

Karnataka, October 31, 2011: Karnataka Chief Minister says he will take steps to have charges brought against 150 Christian youths following anti-Christian violence in 2008 dropped. D V Sadananda Gowda made the pledge to 13 of the state’s Catholic bishops who demanded the “immediate withdrawal” of the charges at a meeting with them.

The bishops, led by Archbishop Bernard Moras of Bangalore, also submitted a letter alleging that the state had given “protection and support” to the real culprits, while victimizing “helpless and innocent Christians.” Bishop Henry D’Souza of Bellary said today that the chief minister’s assurance “was a good step” and that they will get a positive outcome within the week.

The bishops also demanded a probe by India’s top investigating agency into the attacks “to find the truth, to punish the culprits and to instill confidence” in the Christian community. The southern Indian state witnessed 24 attacks on Church institutions and Christians in September 2008.

Since then, around 300 cases of anti-Christian violence have been recorded. The bishops’ letter noted that in 2008, churches were “systematically and simultaneously subjected to well-planned vandalism and attacks.” They also urged the government to reject a report by a government appointed commission that exonerated Hindu extremists and police after the violence.

The Justice B. K. Somasekhara commission in its 1,000-page report said “no true Hindu” had a role in the attacks. The bishops said the commission failed to identify the real perpetrators and called on the government to provide adequate compensation to victims and churches and take steps to stop further attacks on Christians.

They also asked the government to allow the construction of prayer halls, churches and other related institutions and ensure that prayer meetings and services can be held without hindrance.

– ucan

Justice Saldanha takes up Temple Donations issue


Retired Justice Michael Saldanha

Retired Justice Michael Saldanha

Retired Justice Michael Saldanha, whose independent report severely indicted the former chief minister, the then home minister and senior police officials is to fire yet another salvo. This time, Justice Saldanha is calling upon the Lokayuta to file criminal and corruption charges on the issue of an estimated Rs.110 crores of temple donations out of the public exchequer. According to him, BS Yeddyurappa, who had to make an inglorious exit, even went to the extent of donating to temples out of Karnataka and to those in the neighbouring states. Justice Saldanha provides a list, which he has made out of media reports – The Dattatreya Peetha in Gulbarga district (Rs. 2 crore); Someshwara Kshetra (Rs. 3 crore) and Hariharapura Kshetra in Chikmagalur district (Rs. 1 crore); Adi Chunchanagiri Kshetra in Mandya district (Rs. 5 crore); Kurubas’ Kanaka Peetha in Haveri district (Rs. 10 crore); Kudalasangama Development Authority for Lingayats (Rs. 5 crore); a pilgrimage centre Basavakalyan (Rs. 5 crore) and more than More than 20 temples managed by Lingayat Mutts in Shimoga district from where Yeddyurappa hails, received a combined grant of Rs. 10 crore from the government. Yeddyurappa also fulfilled the long- pending demands of temple priests, whose salary and perks were doubled, thereby costing the state exchequer Rs. 58 crore a year.

Justice Saldanha said this is the highest amount donated by any Karnataka chief minister to temples in such a short period. Documents released by the government reveal that approximately 269 temples, religious institutions, and religious charitable trusts (all Hindu), received government funds in excess of Rs. 110 crore rupees between 2008 and 2011. Temples and Mutts in Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Tamil Nadu, got more than Rs. 18 crore as aid from Karnataka. Justice Saldanha said one possible reasons for such donations to propitiate God was the political insecurity experienced by BS Yeddyurappa, but that is no reason to use public money and hence, the Lokayukta needs to investigate and act according to the law. There seems to be also a caste and political bias seen in the disbursement, with his own caste, the Lingayats getting most of the public funds and districts, which are BJP strongholds, like Udupi, Hubli- Dharwad, Chikmagalur, and Dakshina Kannada benefitting the maximum from BS Yeddyurappa’s largesse.

Out of Karnataka Disbursements

Justice Saldanha said that the jailed Karnataka ex – CM had reportedly donated to the tune of at least more than Rs 15 crore to cash-rich temples outside the state. The Raghavendra Swamy Mutt in Mantralaya (Andhra Pradesh) seems to be the biggest out of the state beneficiary, having received Rs. 10 crore so far. Sri Jagadguru Panditharadya Seva Samiti in Kurnool district in the same state has received Rs 2 crores. Other temples are Aralmigu Sri Devanathaswamy Lakshmihayagriva temple in Cuddalore district, Tamil Nadu (Rs 1 crore) and Sri Kalikamba temple in Kerala, which received Rs 2.70 lakh. A temple in Karaikal near Puducherry was promised Rs 40 lakh. The powerful Mahabaleshwara temple in Gokarna (coastal Karnataka), the temple was under the government for more than two decades. Despite strong protests, Yeddyurappa deregulated the temple and handed over its management to the Ramachandrapura Mutt, costing the exchequer dearly.

Budgetary Allocations

Justice Saldanha asked “How does one justify financial doles to cash-rich religious organizations, mentioned prominently mention in the budgets Yeddyurappa presented. In the last, he has earmarked Rs 10 crore for the works of the Kaginele Development Authority and Rs 5 crore for completing the works of Shravanabelagola Bahubali Temple complex. Another Rs 5 crore has been provided to complete works under the jurisdiction of Kudalasangama Development Authority, and yet another Rs 5 crore for balance works of the Basava Kalyana Development Authority. In another Rs 5-crore dole, the budget facilitates development of infrastructure at Adichunchanagiri Kshethra in Nagamangala taluk. Nearly Rs 10 crore has been earmarked for the development works of Yediyur Siddalingeshwara Kshethra near Tumkur. Financial assistance to Mansarovar pilgrims has been enhanced to Rs 3 crore and Rs 2 crore has been provided for the development of Dattatreya peetha of Devalagangapura in Gulbarga district. An amount of Rs 3 crore will be provided for the development of Someshwar Kshethra at Rambhapuri in Chikmagalur district, while Rs 1 crore will be given for the development of Hariharpura Kshethra in the same district.

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