“Chalo New Delhi”, “Mourning in Mangalore” or “Black Christmas in Orissa”

April 11, 2011 by  
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Dear Friend in Christ,

This is Sent & Dedicated to Those Who are One with Us in The Cause for a Secular India

The email below seemed to be frighteningly prophetic as we received news of a number of churches being attacked in Kodaikanal, TN and statues vandalised including those of Our Lady of Fatima (90 yrs), St. Lourdes (50 yrs), OL of Velankanni (15 yrs), Crucifix (10 yr) of Poondi Mata Church and many others in Dindigul district. Today, we also sadly received news of Little Flower Catholic Church in Tikamgarh district in Madhya Pradesh being vandalised and torched, which was discovered by the Sisters of Sacred Heart nuns, working there. Elections are due there in November and it seems, the Hindutva forces have opened war on yet another front, that we need to face.

We welcome the Supreme Court’s direction to the Orissa government to to assess the damage to Christian property and assist in re-building them by providing compensation. The CSF is also happy since the apex Court said that proceedings in cases arising out of the violence will have to be conducted by setting up fast track courts. Another statement of the SC Bench, headed by Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan, was that the central para-military forces provided to the state government for maintaining law and order in riot-hit areas will remain there till December-end in view of the upcoming festival of Christmas. All thanks to Archbishop Raphael Cheenath filing a PIL for the same.

The CSF is however disappointed that the SC has declined to hand over to CBI, the investigation into the alleged rape of a nun during the on-going communal violence in Orissa. The apex court could have been a little more sensitive and besides, the Christians have no faith in the police, who stood as mere spectators, while the nun was raped and paraded naked on 25, August and in many cases even participated in the attacks on the community. Any enquiry by the state government, after all the community is going through, will not instill confidence among Christians & such probes will only prove to be shams, as has happened in Gujarat.

Finally, a suggestion that we organize a massive “Chalo New Delhi”, “Mourning in Mangalore” or “Black Christmas in Orissa”, with lakhs (not thousands) of Christians participating from all over the country. No Speeches – Just lay seize to the PM’s / CM’s residence and not move, unless the issue is resolved to our satisfaction. It seems the only way, if we are serious about getting results.

It is said, if you can discuss a problem ad nauseum, you will not be able to solve it.

Thanking you, with warm personal regards – In HIM – Joseph Dias

Goa, Punjab, Haryana, Maharashtra & Tamil Nadu – Next ? Church & Community Needs to Act Urgently

You will be happy to know that Cardinal Oswald Gracias is back yesterday in Mumbai, is recuperating fine & expressed his heartfelt gratitude for those who kept him in their prayers. I am just back from Goa – the latest state on the Saffron Brigade’s communal radar. VHP warlord, Praveen Togadia was there, addressing a meeting, where I was present & it was no different from those he did in Orissa… Manohar Parrikar, Goa’s ex-CM from the BJP, says that at least 7 churches/chapels have been vandalized so far. Hindu fundamentalists are now after a 130 year-old church in Mayem in North Goa & also claiming church property. In Mangalore something similar is happening, where the Hindutvawadis have planted saffron flags over property used by the Church, since decades. The reasons / excuses to target the Christian clergy or laity & their property may vary, but the effect is the same – decimation of the community.

The situation has not improved a bit, anywhere else. Christians in Orissa & in other parts of the India, who do not reconvert to Hinduism, run the risk of being killed, raped or having their property reduced to ashes. Those Christians who reconvert, spare their their heads being tonsured, escape being fed cow-dung & urine, besides having to do unspeakable of desecration to the Bible, Crucifix or statues. I am on my way to Madhya Pradesh, where the announcement of assembly elections in the state has placed Christians at grave risk there, according to Fr. Anand Muttungal of Bhopal and other Christian activists. Tamil Nadu & even Delhi has also been added to the list of targeted states.

Let us admit it. We have failed to make a dent with the powers-that-be in the State as well as the Centre, with no action forthcoming. Lip-service. Words, Words… And More Words. The reaction of the church has been the traditional pray & pay. Christians are largely church-centric & so after the first round of rallies, prayers, meetings, signature drives… we are passing the hat around for relief – the most popular kind being old clothes. The CSF believes that all this was a good beginning & we were not to be left behind. But next what ? Much more is expected from the Church & Community. Instead of collecting resources to compensate the victims, shouldn’t we pressurize the government into giving compensation ? Archbishop Raphael Cheenath of Orissa has moved the court for damages worth Rs. 3 crores and The CSF has asked the PM to act by providing funds from central coffers. Can we / should we collect that much & much more every time anti-Chrisitian violence takes place ?

The writing has been on the wall since the last attack on Christmas eve in Orissa; and if Christians had seen through it then & prepared themselves, we could have saved many precious lives from being snuffed out. We could have prevented blood being spilt, nuns being raped, clergy being attacked, hundreds of churches desecrated, crores of rupees worth property destroyed…It is still not too late, since the attacks will not stop. We fear it will only get worse, until the ultimate Saffron aim to ethnically cleanse & eliminate Christians (physically, politically, religiously & economically) is achieved. In Maharashtra we have information of one Narendra Maharaj, who has much in common with the late Swami Lakshmanand Saraswati of Orissa, who claims to have reconverted almost 50,000 Christians in western India states. Expect more persecution from Thane, Raigad, Ulhasnagar, Sindhudurg….

What needs to be done ?

We need to put in place a mechanism to face such SOS situations. We need to concentrate less on empowering others and more on equipping ourselves. The anti-Christian violence has exposed weak links in the existing church and laity structures. Therefore –

1. The church & the community need to go back to the basics in the Bible. India is fast becoming like the West, in terms of most of us being Christian only in name. Of little importance, in the rush of modern living, are things like – the Great Commission, love & concern for our own, tithing or giving to God’s work, supporting the poor, sick, orphans, widows… Unless we put Christ back among Christians, our faith will be no less shallow than that of those in the “developed” countries – facing an economic meltdown for being selfish & ignoring God ?

2. The church & the community needs to introspect & support notable activist initiatives, for the tasks at hand are huge, needing much financial & professional resources. Most of the initiatives are dependent on private & personal funds, which will dry out in time. Soon, yet another anti-Christian attack will not create a big stir, like anti-Muslim riots don’t today. Rather, many more activists would rise to the cause, if they are supported financially, since or else they would have to do so, at the cost of their jobs or small businesses. We need to organize ourselves into a network – to take on a major community development exercises.

3. The church & the community needs to demand reservations for Christians in education / employment & Scheduled status for Dalit Christians. If we had done so at the time of Independence or during the Mandal Commission agitation, Christians would have been in a better position today. In case of such communal violence or discrimination, we would have had at least a handful of community members in the police, government, judiciary, administration, civil & defence forces, etc. to help us out. The Govt of India NSSO survey clearly states that Christians are in some cases, the poorest. What does the Church or urban Christians plan do about it.

Examples to learn from.

The Parsi, Sikh & Jain minorities, who are just a tiny fraction of our numbers, have shown the way economically & politically. The Muslims too can teach us something in this regard. The Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) has put out an appeal for the better blessed Muslims to each contribute a little Zakat (tithe) annually and is working towards a 25 Million U$ Dollar / Rs.100 Crore community development fund. Details onhttp://www.unitedislamicaid.org/ Christian clergy, intellectuals, professionals, ex-servicemen, financially better-off laity … need to think on these lines.

If we don’t watch out & take urgent steps, our churches will be reduced to muesuems and vocations will stop happening. We are thoroughly ill-equipped to face the onslaught & dangers to come. If we have been spared to some extent is because, we have internationalized the issue. But this too has its limitations.

The CSF is making a humble beginning by setting-up a major DATABANK, which will be of great service in meeting the challenges we are presently confronting. Nothing of this kind exists in India & the expenses for the same are expected to be at a minimum Rs. 2,50,000 or US$ 5555 approx. This will be for staff, office, systems, stationery, communication, etc. We are looking for partners, who are prompted or blessed by the LORD to help us out. If you feel called to assist in any way, please send your contact details to thecsf.ceo@gmail.com

The CSF also has Dr. Peter Rodriques specifically looking into the issue of reservation – a subject very close to his heart. We invite others to contact The CSF and contribute (ideas, contacts, influence, volunteer…) your mite – assistance in kind is more valuable, than cash!

The CSF would also like to promote a national-level Federation of Christian NGOs & activists, to meet under one roof to see how best to organize the community effectively & come out with an action programme. We need to use the internet to tell the world and compel the Government of India to act. We have therefore put up a petition to the UNITED NATIONS & HEADS OF STATES and will follow it through internationally. We are closing this petition by October ’08 end & if you haven’t as yet signed in, please do so athttp://www.PetitionOnline.com/thecsf17/petition.html. Please also forward this email, with the above link, (or copy+paste it) for your other contacts to sign in.

Thank you for the support that you have given us. Please be assured of our prayers for you & your loved ones. Requesting your prayers for us, our families & associates too – without which, it would not have been possible for us to do so much.

Your Servant in the Lord’s Service
Ln. Joseph Dias, MA (Eco), Ex-Special Executive Magistrate / SEO, Govt of Maharashtra
General Secretary, The Catholic Secular Forum (CSF)
09769 55 56 57
trinity.cmd@gmail.com

Martyr Fr. Bernard – I knew & a sermon for thought

April 11, 2011 by  
Filed under India, Orissa, Persecution

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Faith Without Actions is dead – James 2:14-17
Be doers of the Word, not only hearers of it – James 1:22-25

Dear Friend in Christ – www.thecsf.org

Ref : Fr. Cedric Prakash’s email – The Situation is SERIOUS in Karnataka: Start Acting Now!

Your opinion on this is valuable. Please excuse the length, but it is intended for the Serious Christian, like you. Hence, this request to bear with me & later pass this email on.

* Is the Community’s Response to Future Attacks, Killings, Rape… going to be more Pics with VVIPs, Memorandums, Signatures, Meetings, Rallies…
* Fr. Bernard – After Graham Staines & children (burnt alive), Fr. Arul Doss (pierced with arrows) and a hundred more in Orissa.
* SpiceJet Apologizes to The CSF for promoting flights to ‘Jesus Tomb’ in Srinagar. The CSF constitutes Memorial Awards.
* Terrorism, Communalism & Regionalism – Demand Reservations for Christians – Political, Education, Employment, etc.
* What has the UPA, BJP, Left, Congress & other Parties Done – other than their leaders paying lip-service in the media
* The Church in India has done much for others. What about its own ? Will the Universal Church Help ?
* How about a Disaster Plan & working towards Indian Christians 2020 ? What is the Church’s Plan ?
* Sadhvi & ex-Militarymen in Malegaon blasts. Bajrang Dal Activists killed in Nanded & Kanpur blasts.

It was with a very heavy heart and tears in my eyes, I heard of a dear friend, Fr. Bernard Digal’s sudden death. When I stayed with him for over a week in the aftermath of the Kandhamal riots, during my last visit & left him, I never expected him to be targeted so brutally. I was wrong. When I was with him in Holy Spirit Hospital ICU in Mumbai, where we advised that the three priests (Fr. Thomas and Fr Edward. , being the other two) be brought, I often prayed & thanked God for protecting him. I was wrong again. Little did I expect that it would be the last time, we would meet. It seems God brought him to Mumbai, that we should meet, if only once – before HE took him away to be with HIM forever. I became to be very close to Fr. Bernard – both of us being comrades in arms, who along with the likes of Archbishop Cheenath, John Dayal… were in the thick of it all. All I can say is ‘God’s will be done’ and I am sure his soul is resting in peace today – on All Souls Day.

The CSF Orissa Martyrs Memorial

He becomes the first Catholic priest to be martyred in the recent anti-Christian violence. On 1, September, 1999, Fr. Arul Doss, another 35-year old Catholic priest was similarly murdered by fundamentalists, who shot arrows into his chest, leading him to bleed profusely to death. His church was set on fire, as was the case with Fr. Bernard’s too. Similar was the case of Graham Staines and his two minor sons, who were burnt to death, as was Rajni, the church-worker. This could have been the case with more of the priests/pastors & laity, who have borne much of the brunt, with the official death toll reaching 60 and over 100 unofficially. Conservative estimates put the figures as – 315 villages damaged, 4,640 Christian houses burnt, 53,000 Christians homeless, 10 priests/pastors/nuns seriously injured, 18,000 Christians injured, 2 nuns gang-raped, 149 churches destroyed, 13 Christian schools and colleges damaged….. The CSF has decided to institute or contribute towards memorial & awards in honour of these martyrs for the faith and also in the name of Sr. M…., for exemplary courage in the face of great adversity. A picture of the award proposed, on the lines of a gift given to me by Fr. Bernard Digal & can be seen onhttp://www.thecsf.org/home.html

SpiceJet Apology on ‘Jesus’ Tomb

The SpiceJet airline and its in-flight magazine published by Singapore-based, Ink Publishing has tendered an unequivocal & unqualified apology for promoting Srinagar, India as a place that houses, “the Rozabal tomb, believed to be the tomb of Jesus Christ”. The CSF had taken strong exception to Spicejet featuring such information in its magazine, Spiceroute Destinations, based on the theory that Jesus Christ survived the crucifixion, ran away from the Romans & Jews, traveled eastwards to Kashmir, died and was buried there. Accordingly, the airline had urged tourists to visit the tomb, situated in the Kanyar district of Srinagar, Kashmir, India.

The CSF in a notice to Mr. Ajay Singh, director and others of Spicejet and its magazine Spiceroute, also called for twenty thousand copies of the magazine to be withdrawn and the apology to be printed prominently in the next issue, failing which the activist organization would take legal action. The same was agreeable & hence, The CSF has let the matter rest.Details & a copy of the apology letter is available at http://www.thecsf.org/csf_now.html#kash.

Terrorism, Communalism & Regionalism

It is an issue, we have been talking & being silent about, ever since Muslims were being stereotyped as terrorists – a profiling that made it easy to discriminate against the community. The truth is, not every Muslim is a terrorist. Now, Christians are being accused of converting by force or inducement and even worse – being labeled as naxalites or anti-national. And even as this is happening in the rest of the country, in Maharashtra, we have police killing a Patna Bihari boy in a bus and a group lynching a ‘bhaiya’ in a train. In Goa, fundamentalists are using pretexts like evacuee property to target a 130 year-old Our Lady of Miracles Church in Mayem, Bicholim and in Karnataka, church properties are under attack by Hindutvawadis, who have placed their flags in Mangalore.

Under the guise of protecting India from Green Terror, we now have Saffron Terror, with the involvement of Hindu extremists alleged in the Malegaon blasts & the arrests of Sadhvi Pragya & her accomplices. We have encounter cops / retired militarymen, joining parties, like Shiv Sena, which have offered legal & other support to those arrested in the Malegaon blasts. Ex & serving defence persons, as well as defence training institutions (Bhosala) are being used to build-up forces. The Samajwadi & Bahujan Samaj parties have offered similar support / tickets / seats to Muslims, as in blasts (Batla House – Jamia Nagar) or in promoting the Haj pilgrimage.

Just as the Majority-Minority issue has the Congress & the BJP in a bind, so also the Marathi Manoos card has pitted the north & south Indians against the Maharashtrians. The Shiv Sena & Raj Thackeray’s MNS are falling over each other to claim the title of saviour of the Marathi Manoos. On this issue all Bihari politicians – Lalu, Nitish, Paswan… stood one to a man, while all Maharashtrian politicians did the same, soft pedaling on Raj and even backing him – in secret or openly. Whom do the Christians have to take-up their cause ? And will they all come together, as the others do, when their own are attacked ? Christians are a divided lot & unless come together in an activist organization, our state will worsen, as it has over the decades.

Reconversion & Demand for Reservations

The violence against Christians may have subsided temporarily, under Supreme / High Court pressure, but re-conversion in Orissa is very much on by the hundreds. Thousands are still in refugee camps, you & I would shudder at the thought of. The Orissa & other state governments talk of conversion by force or inducement, which are punishable. The re-conversions are under compulsion & widely publicised. The tribal converts to Christianity are now being forced to convert to Hinduism. In Western India, we have Narendra Maharaja doing it. Such re-conversions are illegal & comes under the purview of the anti-conversion law ? There is also pressure on Dalit Christians not to freely practise their faith & the government compells them to show themselves as Hindus or Buddhists, if they are get official benefits.Christians, who share the same socio-cultural milieu as non-Christians, are being discriminated by the State on the basis of religion, if they are not granted Scheduled status. This again is nothing short of re-conversion by the Police State. In the given situation, wouldn’t we might all be forced to re-convert to Hinduism.

As our very own, Dr. Peter Rodriques says – its time to agitate & demand for Christian reservations in Jobs, Politics, Education, etc. We have enough of Government of India data to do so – NSSO Survey & Employment/Education statistics. There is enough ground to take it up legally. In fact, in Maharashtra even the influential Marathas & Parsis are asking for quotas – and may well get it. We also need to forcefully demand that Christians be recognised by the government to get at least OBC status, begining with the Dalit Christians, pending their case being decided – since its almost a Golden Century that the Church has taken-up their cause.Will some advocate take-up these issues ? The CSF is willing to assist.

UPA Still to Act. Anti-Establishment Vote ?

Will some one tell us what the Government of India has done on the anti-Christian violence ? It has laid the blame at the State Government’s door and said that the Union Government is helpless & reduced to issuing a dozen warnings! Is’nt it that the government in power, no matter whichever political party, takes Christians for granted ? If so, why not vote anti-establishment ? The assembly elections are due in 5 states and Parliament elections are around in a few months. Is it not time for Christians to reconsider their position ? Surely, if the Opposition comes to power, it would know that the minorities have voted for it. The Opposition need not be the BJP everywhere. It could be the Left, Bahujan Samaj or the Third Front. Alternatively changing governments, as happens in Kerala with the LDF / UDF or as in USA with the Democrats / Republicans, might help. And Christians will have a better deal, next time around, by God’s grace. Since that is the only reason, we are still around. Think about it.

Where is the Church ? Has it met on this issue ?

The Church’s response has been less than adequate. I doubt there has even been an all India level meeting of all church denominations – 3 Catholic Rites, CNI, CSI….including the Pentecostals & Evangelicals. Barring a handful of us in New Delhi, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Mumbai & MP, doing our little bit, there is no co-ordinated Christian laity activist movement. And even we have limitations. Some of us are into business, others are aged & still others are restricted by lack of funds or resources. The existing Church structures are not equipped to face the situation at hand & will certainly not be able to handle the future. Its time Christians wake up to meet the challenges ahead by supporting / empowering the few Christian activists, we have in the community, who have been effective, in their protests, even with the limited means, at our disposal.

We need a NETWORK, with a CORPUS FUND to animate the community. For instance, nobody reached Tamil Nadu, where an almost century-old OL of Fatima Church was vandalized, along with St. Lourdes (50 yrs), OL of Velankanni (15 yrs), Crucifix (10 yr) of Poondi Mata Church and many others in Dindigul district. No pictures & information are available because we did not have the money to go there… Same is the case with a number of other instances of anti-Christian violence, where we receive reports & appeals from. We are aware of many Christian activists starved of funds & resources – Christian activists who have great potential to resurrect a community floundering. They are looking up to / waiting for their Church to lead. Will it ?

The Church in India is almost as old as Christianity itself – 2000 years – coming from Jesus’ apostles, St. Thomas or St. Bartholomew and is responsible for a vast majority of the social services – in poverty-eradication, personality development, leadership, education, healthcare, rights, law, etc. Today, the non-Christians are way up ahead in all these areas and many more important ones, like politics, business & employment. We ‘educated’ or ‘treated’ or ’empowered’ many of our attackers. For instance, Vijendra, the son of Karnataka CM, Yediyurappa allegedly studied in St. Joseph’s College (1994-97) and we could give you a number of VIPs who have passed out of Christian institutions. The silence of the ‘non-Christian’ majority is deafening & frightening.

Why do you call yourself a Christian ? National Convention / Synod ?

But even worse – Where is the Christian leadership ? Is’nt it time for serious introspection & action – Has the Church been able to act effectively ? Our Catholic & Christian hierarchy, clergy & laity – charismatics, Evangelicals & Pentecostals – sophisticated & elite institutions – church councils & commissions – international contacts – community unions & sabhas – one-man armies…. All built-up by the common Christian – funded by Lazarus’ or widow’s mite, so to say – over centuries. What has been ou response ? Do we have a Disaster Management Plan for the future ? There is a feeling that the true Christian will not miss out, if any of these structures are not there – like the persecuted Church in China or places, where there is no freedom of religion eg. some Islamic nations. Imagine ! What would happen, if a Hindutvawadi government comes to power & our institutions are all taken over or if the Church has to move underground ? Worse is happening. We have a ‘secular’ government at the Centre & ‘communal, regional or so-called secular’ governments in the states, even as Christians are targetted & Church properties / institutions / clergy are attacked. What has the governments or even our own MPs done ? The north-east is Christian & we have tribal or women MPs too. Did they even speak-up or do something more than speak-up ? It is time we wake-up to the harsh realities & stop thinking in terms of migrating to Australia, Canada or the West. For not all of us can afford that luxury.

Christians allow religious freedom everywhere. Places of worship are allowed even in Rome & the West. Money to religious organizations, even if it is to the RSS, VHP or IRF flow easily from ‘Christian’ nations abroad. So why are’nt Indian Christians given the same basic human rights. George Menezes, John Dayal and a small group of us met in Mumbai to brain-storm. An exchange of emails or articles in church-bulletins will not help. Rallies or speeches will not help. We need to meet urgently. The CSF would like to promote National Convention / Synod in Mumbai& we urge you to send us details of Christian activists, volunteers, bureaucrats, professionals, businesspersons & those influential, whom the LORD has blessed – That can be your minimum contribution to the cause, wherever you are. Let us set our own house in order & then take on the powers-that-be – as the Bible says, a house divided against itself will not stand & unity is strength.

If you don’t help, Christian activists will go back to their work or businesses & pay more attention to it. After all that will help us to some extent, in the face of anti-Christian attacks. And nothing can stop us from praying for all of Christianity. So its time we take a stand for community development, because as the Bible say, if you are lukewarm, God will spew you out of His mouth.

Do let us have your thoughts on the above – You can be sure, every word will be taken seriously.

Please be assured of our prayers for you & your loved ones. Requesting your prayers for us, our families & associates too – without which, it would not have been possible for us to do so much.

Your Servant in the Lord’s Service

Ln. Joseph Dias, MA (Eco), Ex-Special Executive Magistrate / SEO, Govt of Maharashtra
General Secretary, The CSF
+91 9769 55 56 57 trinity.cmd@gmail.com

Cheques / DDs can be drawn in favour of The CSF and sent to our Regd Office.

Check out these links:

http://www.rediff.com/news/2008/sep/22inter.htm &
http://www.PetitionOnline.com/thecsf17/petition.html

The CSF Slams the Sham JBKSC Report – Joseph Dias, Gen Sec, The CSF, 28th January, 2011

April 11, 2011 by  
Filed under India, Karnataka, Persecution

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The Catholic-Christian Secular Forum (CSF) Slams the Sham
Justice BK Somasekhara Commission Report (JBKSCR)
by Joseph Dias, Gen Sec, The CSF, 28th January, 2011

Highlights of The CSF findings:

• Flawed investigation, tailor-made report – lip service, biased, dishonest & mockery
• Law to bring Christian places of worship & funding under regulation is suggested
• The Govt ordered JBKSC to be wound-up fearing implication of Hindutva outfits
• No probe into attacks being part of a wider national militant Hindutva pogrom
• Indian army report of Christians on the Hindutva radar based on intelligence
• Attacks of such a magnitude is not possible without funds & official support
• 28 months & 9 extensions later, it adds insult to injury & salt to wounds
• Many Independent enquiries reach diametrically opposite conclusions
• State machinery used as an accomplice by Saffron brigade for terror
• How much has the JBKSC or BJP’s PR exercise cost the exchequer
• Service of missionaries is the motive behind anti-Christian attacks
• JBKSCR says BJP government not cold shouldering Christians
• JBKSCR says law to protect Hindu religion interests is justified
• Limited exoneration of the Catholic Church is a divisive ploy
• JBKS runs the risk of being labeled a Hindutva spokesman
• JBKSCR alleges instances of conversions by inducement

The CSF, a Mumbai-based national community advocacy NGO takes strong exception to the Justice BK Somasekhara Commission Report on the anti-Christian attacks in Karnataka submitted to Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa. Justice BK Somasekhara reportedly is a classmate of the CM and so the report can hardly be expected to be unbiased! It has been presented after 28 months and 9 extensions, serving no purpose, other than obliging his political masters. This also becomes clear from the fact that after theinterim report pointed out to elements of various Hindutva outfits, the state government sought towind up The JBKS Commission and later rescinded the order, after Justice BK Somasekhara’s protests. Does it take much to read between the lines and expect anything else, from such a report?

The CSF however, takes the opportunity to urge the Karnataka Government to withdraw hundreds of cases falsely foisted on Christians and also give adequate compensation to those affected. This has not happened despite repeated promises by BS Yeddyurappa and Dr. VS Acharya, the home minister. Even The JBKS Commission admits – “The government and administration did not treat the Christian protesters sympathetically. The compensation is too meager and contemptuous”. This shows the seriousness of the BJP Government towards the plight of Christians, being persecuted for their faith in Karnataka.

An independent enquiry by Retd. High Court Judge, Michael Saldanha and civil society fact-finding teams, including one co-ordinated by The CSF and prominent persons like Mahesh Bhat, Teesta Setalvad, etc. have all reached diametrically opposite conclusions. The CSF therefore rejects the report, which is full of lies and gives a clean chit to the perpetrators of the crimes. The JBKS Commission says that conversions “were not necessarily by compulsions or fraud or coercion, but definitely by inducements” which is shocking. In a sense, it only rubs salt into our wounds and is an exercise to whitewash the culpability of the powers-that-be in Karnataka, which has seen a rapid rise in communalism, after the right wing BJP came to power.

Targeting Christians – Militant Hindutva’s National Strategy

The CSF understands from the Army’s Military Intelligence (MI) report that not just Muslims, but even Christians were on the radar of Lt. Col. PS Purohit, a key link in the Hindu extremist network and his outfit Abhinav Bharat, which planned attacks in several locations including Orissa and North Karnataka. The Malegaon blast accused & Purohit’s aide Sameer Kulkarni was allegedly behind the killing of 2 Christians in Orissa in August 2008.

The JBKS Commission has not looked into this angle – The Karnataka attacks could be part of a larger Hindutva plan, coming close on the heels of similar persecution of Christians elsewherein the country, especially BJP ruled states. Is it a coincidence that the murder of Graham Staines took place less than a month after Swami Aseemanand organized a huge rally in Gujarat’s Dangs district on Christmas Day in 1998. The attacks on Christians that followed lasted 12 days. If Swami Assemanand is probed a bit more, we should not be surprised, if he divulges plans of the Sangh Parivar to terrorize Christians all over the country. The JBKS Commission should not unwittingly play into the hands of Hindu radicals. A similar pattern can be seen in Christmas eve attacks in Orissa and Maharashtra too, where a godman stirs up Hindus and directs them towards Christians, who persecute the community.

The JBKS Commission far from assuaging the hurt sentiments of the community, has added insult to injury and pays mere lip service, with no justice for the victims. The CSF believes that, after what seemed as anti-conversion remarks of the SC judges in the Staines murder case, Justice BK Somasekhara goes further and runs the risk of being viewed as a spokesperson of the Hindutva brigade. Christians are offended by this report and The CSF will initiate and join protests against it, urging the government not to accept it.

Saffron Terror with State as Accomplice

The JBKS Commission has failed to nail the true culprits, but even worse, it sees no reason to fix criminal culpability on the State for abetting serious crimes, including attempt to murder and religious violence. It is not just the Hindutva forces that it shields, but even worse, it seeks to protect perpetrators, who are part of the official state machinery and are expected to be secular.

The CSF points out that The JBKS Commission had in its interim report submitted in February last year said that “strong impression is created that the members belonging to Bajarang Dal, Sri Rama Sene, and the VHP (Vishwa Hindu Parishad) etc. are mainly responsible for attacking churches or places of worship, mainly in Mangalore and South Canara (Dakshina Kannada) districts spreading to other districts and other parts of the state.” However, in its final report the panel exonerates these very groups. Again, The JBKS Commission though absolving Bajrang Dal of the attacks, has held Mahendra Kumar, then Bajrang Dal convenor, guilty of justifying the attacks. He could not have acted alone to carry out attacks of such a magnitude, as scores of miscreants would be neededHowever, only token or no action has been taken against most. The Hindutva brigade has openly, in the media and at various public forums, gleefully admitted and has taken credit for the anti-Christian attacks.

The Commission places on record – “The failure of the District Administration functionaries in protecting the rights of the religious minorities and their interference in their activities by misuse of power is evident and apparent. Their acts of locking the places of worship and preventing the devotees from offering prayers are unprecedented in the history of Administrative process and constitutional Governance”. The CSF would like to ask – Under whose instructions was all this happening? What were the law-enforcing authorities doing? There are many classic cases of the upholders of the law turning violators. What action has the chief minister taken against the officials, who abetted the crimes? Where did the funds & resources for the attacks come from?

We get the impression that The JBKS Commission has been splurging public money; and citizens are entitled to know how much this BJP’s public relations exercise has cost the exchequer? One of the objectives seems, to put it in The JBKS Commission’s own words, is to expel “The impressions and allegations that the present ruling government is showing cold shoulders to the interest of the minority Christian community in Karnataka and is trying to suppress them for their political ends like vote catching methods, which has no basis”!

Divisive & Serious Curbs on Freedom of Religion

There also seems to be a devious ploy in “exonerating” the Catholic Church on the issue of conversion and blaming other Christian denominations for the same. Why was the Catholic Church targeted most and have to bear brunt of the attacks, if the Hindutva ire was directed against other Christian groups? The JBKS Commission states – “The allegations and impressions given to members of the Hindu religion – that Christians are indulging in mischievous activities by commercializing or using inducements, etc; and by using their literature maligning the Hindu Religion – appears mostly probable and true at some locations”. The CSF sees this as a divide and rule policy, which is an attempt to divide Christians and target them selectivelyAccording to The CSF there is no proof of Christians doing this and if it is proved to be so, action as per relevant criminal laws should apply.

The JBKS Commission states, “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”. According to The CSF, this again is a baseless allegation and canard spread by the saffron brigade, mouthed by The JBKS Commission. It further says “The proposal of many Hindu religious people for suitable legislation to prevent practices detrimental to the interest of Hindu religion is justified”This statement is more suitable coming from a spokesperson of the Sangh Parivarrather than The JBKS Commission.

The JBKS Commission states “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 is well founded and accepted. According to The CSF, again there is no basis and it seems to be part of a plan against Christians to usurp their private property, which is well managed in accordance to existing laws.

The JBKS Commission finds the “suggestion for a stringent financial check and audit of the activities of Pastors is totally justified and accepted. The Commission also calls for some legislation to regulate conversion and religious activities”. This is unthinkable and a gross violation of basic universal human rights, not to mention being unconstitutional and against our fundamental rights.

Don’t Not Know Who the Attackers are?!

The JBKS Commission has blamed the attacks on misguided and un-named anti-Christian groups and further admits – “the attacks are indulged in by misguided fundamentalist miscreants, who have mistakenly presumed that they would be protected by the Party in power with their policies at the relevant time”. The CSF asks – How did they get that presumption? And yet, The JBKS Commission says that – “There is no basis to the apprehension of Christian petitioners that the politicians, BJP, Sangha Parivar and state government directly or indirectly, are involved in the attacks”. Ample proof, especially by way of videos have been submitted, yet even in cases where The JBKS Commission has found the guilty, it has been careful to stop short and not identify them or call for punishment / action against the culprits.

The CSF, following the proceedings from the very beginning, observed the insincerity of The JBKS Commission. Fr Joseph Menzes of Mariyappana Palya church, which was attacked by miscreants, is upset by the irrelevant questions and queries made by the commission when he deposed before it. “In what way are church’s documents or documents related to a cemetery relevant to the commission’s terms of reference”, he asks. It seems clear that there was never an intention to give justice or arrive at the truth, but rather to provide an instrument to the guilty and help them find an escape route.

The JBKS Commission says an attack on a monastery in Mangalore stirred religious sentiments triggering off series of incidents across the state. This is far from true, as the attacks were not spontaneous, but clearly well planned and orchestrated, supported by the state administration. No prompt action was taken and the miscreants were allowed to go on rampage, with impunity. Over 113 attacks in 29 districts are known. And after this, The JBKS Commission had the audacity to even say that “Some incidents of attack were self inflicted, some make believe, some blown out of proportions and some totally politicised”.
The CSF asks – Why would the victims do this? And with what motive or benefit?

The Home Minister & His Police

The JBKS Commission says “concerned Police in all the districts did their best and have been successful in nabbing most of such miscreants and a large number of charge sheets have been filed in various Courts which will have to finally adjudicate their identity and culpability”. According to The CSF, around 200 victims have been charged and the miscreants have gone scot free. The CSF has come to know of an additional 138 attacks in Karnataka, in the last 2 years, after the 2008 religious violence. Stereo-typing, victimization, harassment and profiling of Christians continue, as lakhs of minorities are unsafe in the state and have lost faith in such Commissions. The role of the state home minister, Dr. Acharya & his culpability is amply clear and need no further explanation.

The JBKS Commission mentions – “The impression created incidentally that due to the alleged excesses of the police during the lathi charge etc. in Dakshina Kannada incidents, the innocent people like children, women were also victimized unjustifiably is true in a few instances noted in the report categorically”. It also states that, ”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.” Perhaps, The JBKS Commission is not aware of policemen like – Satish Nayak, IPS (Dakshin Karnataka SP), Ganapathy (Mangalore East Inspector) & Jayanth Shetty, DSP (Mangalore Rural) who were let off with merely a warning?

The JBKS Commission further states – “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”. Again it adds – “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 CSF asks – Would police leave evidence? What motivation could one expect for the police to behave in such a manner? If police entering other places of worship, like the Golden Temple or a mosque is not tolerated, how could they dare desecrate the churches?

For more info:
Joseph Dias
, General Secretary, The CSF
+91 9769 55 56 57  |  csfpost@gmail.com