PEOPLE’S TRIBUNAL REPORT on “CHURCH ATTACK” PART-3

REPORT OF THE PEOPLE’S TRIBUNAL ENQUIRY

Writer: Justice M. F. Saldanha

PEOPLE’S TRIBUNAL ENQUIRY

Conducted at the instance of the

People’s Union for Civil Liberties,

South Kanara, And

The Catholic Association of South Kanara

And

Transparency International, Karnataka Chapter

By Justice M. F. Saldanha

Retired Judge, Karnataka High Court.

President, The Catholic Association of South Kanara.

Chairman, Transparency International , Karnataka Chapter.

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Justice M.F Saldanha handovers the report of “Attacks on Churches in Mangalore” to Minister of Law and Justice Veerappa Moili.

CHAPTER-III

ATTACK AROUND THE MILAGRES CHURCH

On the morning of Sunday, 14th September 2008, as indicated in Chapter-I, an unprovoked attack took place on the Adoration Monastery which is situated hardly 200 mtrs. away from the Milagres Church, which in turn is located right in the centre of Mangalore city.  Both the Church and the Monastery are located on the main Falnir road which is a broad main road, the well known Moti Mahal Hotel being located in the same vicinity.  It is also necessary for me to record that opposite the Monastery there is a relatively large area occupied by the Milagres hall which is a considerably big new building housing two auditoriums.  What is important is that this property, like the hotel, the shops and the other buildings on that road is surrounded by a fully paved area and it is of significance to record that there is not a single stone, large or small anywhere around the entire area.  Between the Milagres hall and the church is a large cemetery which in turn is fully enclosed by a relatively high compound wall.  The only gate to this cemetery is located on the right side of the main church which is a considerable distance away from the main road and about one kilometer away from the Monastery gate.  I need to record this because a series of incidents of immense seriousness took place on that day on the road in front of the Monastery which involved violent stone throwing where-in granite “rock-pebbles” were used  There are no stones of any type to be found on

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the Falnir road or anywhere in the vicinity.  There is no access from the main road to the cemetery.  However, I personally checked the whole cemetery in order to reassure myself that there were no stones, more so “granite-rock pebbles” anywhere in the whole of the cemetery.  It is a very old cemetery with hundreds of graves neatly laid out in lines with monuments over most of them and paved pathways leading to the graves.  There are a number of trees in the cemetery but one will not find even a single stone even if one looks for it. I have taken the special care to inspect the entire area because all the stones used in the afternoon’s incident were  MEDIUM SIZED GRANITE ROCKS WHICH ARE TOTALLY FOREIGN TO THIS AREA. WHERE DID THEY COME FROM AND WHO BROUGHT THEM THERE?

As indicated in Chapter-I, the incident wherein the Monastery was attacked and the chapel and the holy objects therein were desecrated took place in the earlier part of the day around 10 to 11 a.m.   As soon as this happened, the news of the attack spread rapidly in the whole city and particularly in the Milagres Parish and many people rushed there. THE LOCAL TV CHANNELS CARRIED THE NEWS LIVE. THE INCIDENT SO SHOCKED THE WORLD CONSCIENCE THAT ALL THE WORLD CHANNELS CARRIED IT- I SAW IT ON BBC AND CNN IN LONDON.  Being a Sunday, and since it was a hot sunny afternoon, many of the men folk were probably resting at home because my consistent investigations show that the majority of people who gathered there fell into three categories; women, nuns and priests.  They were all in the age group of

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around 40 to 60 years. Most of them were Christians who were distressed and alarmed at what had taken place.  I say this because it is of importance to point out that their reaction was one of shock and perhaps a level of disappointment coupled with horror over an attack on a religious place.  They had gathered in the lane or small narrow road leading to the Monastery and the rest of them were on the main road.  Being a Sunday and around noon time, the traffic was relatively light and the group of about  300 to 400 people who were assembled as time went on and as the news spread, never got to more than about 500 persons at the very highest because very few continued to remain there- the TV channels were covering the incident live and the videos are quite clear.  The local representatives of the International media channels also came there and took videos of the incidents as also of the people gathered at the spot and the Press also took a relatively large number of photographs  between noon and about 5.00 p.m. I had requested these agencies to show me the videos and the copies of the photographs because all of this is contemporaneous unimpeachable evidence from which the following significant aspects emerge:

(a)  that all those persons who had assembled there were essentially devout Christians who were deeply offended by the incident and basically came there with the idea of praying in order to make reparation for the attack on the chapel. They had come there at short notice for a devout purpose and they hailed from a respectable background.  None of them had any weapons with them. THEY

WERE A PEACFUL GROUP OF SENIOR CITIZENS

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GATHERED IN PRAYER.

(b)     a careful scrutiny of the material available establishes that there were no unruly or anti-social elements in or around the area as this was not a planned assembly nor was there any occasion for such elements to reach that place.  This is also established from my personal enquiries with well placed persons in society who included Senior Doctors, Chartered Accountants, Businessmen, retired people and members of the clergy.

(c )    The set of taxi drivers who normally park their cars in that area and who are all non Christians and totally independent persons and the Security staff of Moti Mahal Hotel who also belonged to the same category, as also the staff of  another hotel located next door, who are again totally independent persons, and lastly, the residents of a high rise building located opposite the cemetery who are also eye witnesses, all confirmed that it was a peaceful devout group of respectable citizens all of whom were either standing in silence or praying and that there was no slogan shouting violence or any incident that could be construed as a law and order problem or disturbance of public peace.  For a full FOUR HOURS  i.e. till about 5  p.m., for some strange reason, the police did not appear on the scene;  the obvious reason being that after their collusion with the Chapel attackers in the morning, they had probably realized that they may be

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answerable for what had happened. MORE IMPORTANTLY, THIS

FULLY CONFIRMS THE FACT THAT THE SITUATION WAS TOTALLY PEACFUL.

Sometime around 5.00 p.m, the SP of the area along with about 20 officers of different ranks, all in uniform, with helmets and riot-control gear arrived at the scene armed with lathis.  They had come in a number of jeeps and police vans. The police constables were also armed with lathis and other equipment that is normally carried by the police while dealing with a violent mob.  The records also indicate that apart from the SP and other police officers, the then DC was also present.  The strange part of the operation was that these vehicles came from the City Centre and since there were a relatively large number of them, the majority of them were parked on the main road adjoining the Church, while about one third of the vehicles drove through the persons assembled there and stopped on the road beyond the assembled group opposite the Moti Mahal Hotel. Why the persons assembled there were blocked-off from both ends was not apparent at that time, but as I shall presently indicate, it was part of the Police master-plan to trap and surround them which subsequently became apparent.

Now comes the most significant part of the incident.  The police had brought with them two blue coloured tempos which were private vehicles (not Police vehicles) bearing yellow coloured number plates.  One of these was brought to the front of the Police vehicles on each of the two sides, with all the

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assembled persons sandwiched between the vehicles.  What is very significant is the fact that each of these tempos was carrying about 20 young men per vehicle, ALL IN PLAIN CLOTHES.  Each of these persons was armed with lathis or sticks. The Videos clearly show a fellow sitting above the driver’s cabin of each Tempo carrying a TRISHUL!  I have done considerable research in trying to ascertain the identity of these persons.  I have written to the SP asking him for an explanation with regard to the presence of these tempos and the occupants of these vehicles.  Neither this man  nor  his  subordinates have  tendered  any  explanation  nor  have   they

remained present on any of the eleven occasions when asked to do so.  The occupants of these tempos had nothing to do with the police department. The victims in this and in all the other incidents where the same modus operandi was followed, have clearly identified these armed miscreants who occupied the two tempos  as local Bajrang Dal activists. From the day the BJP Government came to power in the State which coincided with Dr. B. V. Acharya assuming the portfolio of Home Minister, militant activity of all  the saffron brigades took an ugly turn. Open war was declared on the Christians and the Muslims. The Saffron brigades took charge of all the Police Stations in the District and dictated terms to the officers and staff, most of whom willingly fell in line. What was the immediate fall-out?

(A)     the members of the saffron brigade could commit any atrocities or crimes, they had total immunity from the law enforcement authorities.

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(B)     any member of the minority community who had been threatened, beaten up or looted and who went to complain at the Police Stations was assaulted and arrested under a host of NON-BAILABLE OFFENCES and put behind bars. It soon became evident that it was extremely dangerous to go to a Police Station or call the Police even in the most serious of cases. It is not surprising therefore that the police brought their partners in crime to that place in the two Tempos openly, brazenly and brandishing TRISHULS!

The DC and then the SP who had led the convoy had megaphones with them and they announced at around 5.00 p.m. that Section 144 Orders had been promulgated and that all those present there must disperse. Strangely enough, the unanimous evidence is that being peaceful law abiding persons, the crowd of about 400 to 500 persons decided to leave the place when asked to do so.  Nobody argued with the officers nor did anybody put forward any resistance to the direction. THOUGH THE POLICE AND THE D.C. ASKED THE PERSONS TO DISPERSE, THEY HAD TAKEN THE PRECAUTION TO ENSURE THAT BOTH THE EXIT-ROUTES WERE BLOCKED SO THAT NOBODY COULD IN FACT LEAVE. 

Without any provocation from any quarter, the persons assembled on the road were subjected to a violent attack of stones BY THE OCCUPANTS OF THE TWO BLUE TEMPOS from both sides i.e. the  Church  side  and

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the Moti Mahal side and the attackers were all the saffron activists who were in the two tempos that were stationed there.  Almost every single person sustained injuries, some of them on vital parts of their bodies.  As soon as the stone throwing started, the police who were stationed on virtually all the four sides of the persons assembled there were ordered by the SP and the Officers to lathi-charge those present and SIMULTANEOUSLY to use teargas shells.  In the face of this attack, people tried to flee the area and they were chased and mercilessly beaten up.

There is a Church service i.e. a Sunday Evening Mass, which was at 5.00 p.m. in the main Milagres Church and about 500 people had come to the Church for the Mass.  This incident wherein the police and their partners from the Bajrang Dal ran riot on the adjoining road took place around the time when the Mass was about to commence. In order to protect themselves, people started running off the road into the Church compound right up to the front verandah and the side verandahs of the Church and the Parish House which is adjoining. They were chased by the police and over 200 of them were mercilessly assaulted in the Church compound and in the precincts of the Church.

I have confirmed these facts from three sources which are as follows:

(a)      Over 300 of the victims who have shown me the injuries sustained by them. EVERY ONE OF THE INJURIES IS ATTRIBUTABLE TO STONE-INJURIES AND LATHI-BLOWS.  I had called a

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public meeting requesting all persons who knew anything about the incident to come forward and give their evidence and I am satisfied from the status and the credibility of each of them, all of whose versions tally one hundred percent to the letter, that the attack by the police which was started by the Bajrang Dal Activists who had been brought by them and who commenced with the stone throwing, was totally unprovoked and unjustified.  From the nature of the incident and the injuries sustained, what also emerges is the fact that the attack was savage, barbaric and brutal.  The most serious aspect of the matter is that it was carefully planned by the SP and DC and those who had accompanied them and executed with a level of aggression and brutality that would categorize their action as serious criminal offences. This attack took place at a point of time when the Bajrang Dal activists had been attacking and terrorizing members of the minority communities all over the Karavali area for over three months.  At two meetings called by me, what was pointed out was that there had been as many as 168 recorded attacks on members of these communities on roads, public places, residential areas and the main target was shops and hotels run by members of the Muslim and Christian community.  Pursuant to the complaint that not even one offence had been registered against the miscreants anywhere in the District, I had called on the SP and the Heads of the Police Stations concerned to explain how and why this had happened.  There was no response. I had also written to the Home Minister Dr. V.

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S. ACHARYA  BY NAME, to the Chief Secretary to the Govt. of Karnataka and to the D.G. Police recording these facts and asking for an explanation- nothing forthcoming, not even the customary paper denials! What is more incriminating is the fact that the Bajrang Dal Chief has gone on record twenty-eight times accepting responsibility for all the attacks and no action was ever taken against him.

(b)             When this incident took place, the Mass service was disrupted and about 10% of the congregation ran out of the Church out of fear  that the police would enter the Church.  While the evidence indicates that the lathi charge and the teargas was used even in the Church compound and the verandahs and front porch of the Church, mercifully, the police did not resort to any violence inside the Church.  The Priest who was conducting the service, requested those present not to react, all of them did. (It so happens that the neighbour to my mother’s house, who is a Senior and well respected professional  remained in the Church and escaped injury- he is one of those who confirms the veracity of the incident as he had seen the Police taking up positions shortly earlier when he was on the way to the Church fir the evening Mass) Those who ran outside were eye-witnesses to the police violence and to the brutality and most  of them sustained injuries.  Over 100 eye witnesses have deposed to the fact that the persons in plain clothes created very interesting evidence by breaking a few glasses and damaging some of the Police vehicles in order to

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support the allegation that the crowd had retaliated.  I have carefully checked the possibility of this taking place, because if those present had been attacked, even the Law permits them to retaliate in self defence.  This did not happen because none of those present had   any weapons with them, most of them were in the age group of over 50, again, a majority of them being women and the possibility of returning the stone throwing was also eliminated by the fact that the attack from the police was so sudden that there was no chance for any of them to have even picked up a stone and hurled it back. I have considerable experience of the intelligence levels of the Dakshina Kannada Police particularly in their favorite area of ENCOUNTER KILLINGS- they are incapable of even lying intelligently! The Videos are eloquent on the point of who damaged the vehicles. As happened in the Gulf War where the Americans shot their own partners, the minor/insignificant  injuries to a very small number of  police-men were from their own associates, were VIRTUALLY SELF INFLICTED TO CREATE FALSE EVIDENCE.

(c )    One of the eye-witnesses is a senior Lawyer who had come for the Church service.  He was not a member of the group that had been attacked.  His son, also a Lawyer of some seniority was present along with his father.  They had brought with them a family visiting from the US who had expressed the desire to see the Church.  All these six persons  who  are  independent and  again  persons  of  unimpeachable

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credibility have stated that it is the police who indulged in the unprovoked and unjustified violence,  that there was no resistance or counter attack and unfortunately, all the six of them had to leave the Church because of the after effects of the teargas.  They were required to  seek  medical  relief  but none of them  were hospitalized. They got

into their vehicle and drove towards the closest hospital which is the WENLOCK Hospital at the City Centre and it is their evidence as also the evidence of those who fled along that road that after the incident, the occupants of the two tempos were joined by several of their companions all waiting on motorcycles with saffron flags who ran wild on the City Centre and the adjoining roads and even looted and damaged some of the shops in the area. SO THOROUGH AND COMPLETE WAS THE PLANNING FOR THIS ASSAULT THAT THE WENLOCK HOSPITAL REFUSED TO TREAT OR ADMIT ANY OF THE INJURED PERSONS. THE HOSPITAL DOCTORS AND STAFF HAVE UNOFFICIALLY CONFIRMED THAT INSTRUCTIONS HAD COME FROM THE HIGHEST QUARTERS, i. e. THE HOME MINISTER AND HIS SON BOTH OF WHOM ARE DOCTORS. SO MUCH FOR SOME MEMBERS OF THE MEDICAL PROFESSION! THIS WAS THE UNIFORM PATTERN IN ALL THE ATTACKS. NO WONDER THAT DR. ACHARYA BOLDLY TOLD ME THAT NOBODY HAD BEEN INJURED IN THIS INCIDENT EXCEPT HIS POOR POLICEMEN!

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(d)     The police claim to have rounded up and arrested as many as 28         young men on the allegation that they had indulged in rioting and that they had damaged the police vehicles and attacked the police. The police also took away as many as 48 two wheelers from the Church compound on the allegation that these were involved in the offences.  These were not returned for several weeks and the poor owners were blackmailed into paying large sums of money to the police to get their vehicles back.  There is no record available with the police in respect of the seizure of the 48 vehicles obviously because it was wholly illegal. Also, the allegation that all those arrested were involved in the incident is fully established to be false because my investigation indicates that in order to create evidence against the Christian community, a few of the vehicles were damaged in keeping with the pre-conceived plan. Incidentally, in the course of investigation conducted into as many as seven encounters carried out by the police in Dakshina Kannada District in the previous one year, I found that the same pattern is followed whereby evidence of a so-called attack on the police and their vehicles was fabricated in order to justify the cold-blooded murder of so-called anti-social elements.  In the case of eleven of the boys who had been arrested and who happened to be students, my investigations indicate that four of them were pulled out by the police from the Taj Mahal Hotel, two of them from the adjoining sweet stall and the other five from shops and restaurants located

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more than one kilometer away from the incident.  After running wild, in order to support themselves and their illegal activities on that evening, the police indiscriminately picked up persons from all over the place. NOT ONE OF THESE ARRESTS CAN BE JUSTIFIED OR DEFENDED.

THE CLEAN-UP OPERATION:

This incident did not last very long and I would put it down to about half an hour.  What follows is something absolutely unprecedented.   The police went around meticulously picking up all the stones that had been used and replaced them in the two tempos which then drove away WITH THE ROCK-PEBBLES. Initially, I was amazed and impressed at the unbelievable action of the Police to clean up the mess that they had made. What was more interesting  was that  they took  the trouble to retrieve as many of the teargas

shells as they could find and these were also taken away.  As I shall point out subsequently, this was 100% guilty conduct and the police did not want to leave this damaging evidence there. Unfortunately for them, a few of these stones and  teargas shells were left behind and these were picked up by Journalists and some of the victims who produced them at the time when I held the public enquiry at the Milagres Hall and at several other places.  The short reason for this was that the attack was pre-planned and if the stones were left there, the question would arise as to how they came there and who brought them, certainly not a group of elderly devout persons who

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had come to pray over the attack on a place of worship; secondly, as I shall indicate later on, the teargas that was used was outdated by SIX YEARS, the gas that emerged was 100% toxic which could have proved fatal; this was not an accident and the Head of the Police Department i.e. the SP and the Officers who were accompanying him were fully aware of these facts and did not want to leave behind damaging evidence.

After a very careful assessment of the evidence of what happened on Falnir road on the afternoon of 14th September, my conclusions are:

(a)      That there was zero justification for the promulgation of the so-called Section 144 Order by the DC as there was absolutely no indication of any breach of public peace, there was not even the slightest material to support the view that there would be resort to violence or that it would create a law and order problem and more importantly, that the persons had assembled for prayer and not for any unlawful purpose. WHETHER OR NOT AN ORDER WAS PROMULGATED OR THE AUTHORITIES WERE LYING IS IN SERIOUS DOUBT BECAUSE THE ORDER IS NOT FORTHCOMING DESPITE TWO WRITTEN NOTICES, THOUGH I CONCEDE THAT IT COULD EASILY HAVE BEEN FABRICATED LATER.

(b)     That the attack on the congregation was pre-planned and executed by the State Machinery for which the culpability rests entirely with the State.

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(c )    That over 400 persons including 80 members of the Clergy i.e. Priests and Nuns sustained injuries in the incident.

(d)    That the violence used by the police in the Church compound and around the Church while the religious service was going on, was thoroughly unjustified.

(e)     That further, the commencement of violence was also unjustified

because nobody had refused to leave the place, when asked to do the     exit routes by stationing themselves on either side, so that, they could virtually beat up all those who were present.

(f)      That the arrests which took place were thoroughly unjustified as all those who were picked up were not even present when the incident took place. The tell-tale circumstance is that the stone throwing and the lathi charge was so violent THAT NOT A SINGLE ONE OF THOSE PRESENT ESCAPED INJURIES.  None of the boys arrested had any injuries on them which is impossible if they were participants.  The same applies to the vehicles seized as none of them were damaged (apart from being blackmailed for money, the owners reported to me that every one of these vehicles had been virtually stripped at the police station and the owners were told that they would be locked up if they complained).

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(g)  That the looting of the shops in the area was done at the instance of the very anti-social elements who had been brought by the police in the two tempos to start the trouble.

In totality, this incident was shameful and unpardonable and I hold the State Machinery 100% responsible for what had happened.  There can be no extenuating circumstances pleaded. IT CAN ONLY BE CATEGORISED AS A 100% HATE CRIME REMINISCENT OF NAZI ATROCITIES-IN FACT THERE ARE VERY STRONG PARALLELS.  At a subsequent point of time, the State Home Minister –Dr. V.S. Acharya tried to put forward the plea that he had some videos and photographs which were shown to me indicating so-called damage to police vehicles and his contention was that the incident was started by the Christians assembled there who turned violent and attacked the police. This is absolutely false.  Interestingly enough, in every one of the attacks by the police, the Home Minister states that they were accompanied by persons who took videos and photographs which he seeks to rely on.  This conclusively establishes my finding that the attack was preplanned even to the extent of taking photographers to record so-called evidence in support of the false plea that the police were the victims.  In some of the subsequent incidents, the Home Minister claims that the police had sustained some minor injuries.  My conclusion is that these were self inflicted in keeping with the beautiful but

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CRUDE fabrication that is done by the police in all cases of false encounters.

Lastly, it is most regrettable for me to have to record that the conspiracy goes all the way up.  The DC and the SP would never have dared to plan and execute the incidents of these proportions even if they were 100% in collusion with communal elements who had been attacking the minorities unless they had the full blessing and sanction of the State Government represented by the Home Minister and the Chief Minister.  While, I find the role of the Home Minister totally incriminating what is unfortunate is that the Chief Minister who visited Mangalore immediately after the incident in every statement fully justified the Police atrocities and came out with allegations that there had been conversions taking place which had provoked the members of the VHP, RSS and Bajrang Dal and which in turn gave rise to the attacks.  I find it inconceivable to connect this charge with the incident because there is no nexus between so called conversions and state violence against minorities. What is more important is that I had asked the Chief Minister and the Home Minister to justify their charge regarding the alleged conversions both in writing and personally on two occasions in public before the Media and on both occasions, they conceded the fact that there was zero evidence in support of this conversion charge. 

The Constitution of India forbids State Machinery to be used against minorities that too for CRIMINAL PURPOSES. but this is precisely what

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happened on the afternoon of  14th September 2008.  The conduct of the DC and the SP on that afternoon is so very reprehensible that it is surprising that these men are still continued in service. Even if they were acting on instructions from communal elements supported by the Heads of Governments, their personal misconduct can never be condoned AS WAS HELD AT THE NUREMBURG TRIALS OF NAZI OFFICERS. An indication of the patronage is evident from the fact that despite over a 100 written representations, the Home Minister and the Chief Minister refused to shift these two Officers out of the District and fully and completely supported their actions which is conclusive evidence of collusion. This position gets reinforced by the fact that despite repeated pleas to these two Ministers though they preach goodwill and communal harmony from public platforms, THEY HAVE REFUSED TO WITHDRAW ANY OF THE OVER 800 FALSE CASES REGISTERED AGAINST THE SO CALLED CHRISTIAN RIOTERS IN THIS AND OTHER ATTACKS. THE VICTIMS WERE DETAINED IN CUSTODY FOR LONG PERIODS OF TIME BECAUSE THE SUBORDINATE JUDICIARY IN THE STATE IS FULLY SAFFRONISED AND ARE UNDERGOING UNENDING TORTURE.

Justice M. F. Saldanha (Retd.)

For Copies Contact:

P.B. D’Sa

President,PUCL Karnataka

“Pauline” , Valencia

Mangalore-575002,     Tel: 0824-4252170/ 9008820186

PEOPLE’S TRIBUNAL REPORT on “CHURCH ATTACK” PART-2

REPORT OF THE PEOPLE’S TRIBUNAL ENQUIRY

Writer: Justice M. F. Saldanha

PEOPLE’S TRIBUNAL ENQUIRY

Conducted at the instance of the

People’s Union for Civil Liberties,

South Kanara, And

The Catholic Association of South Kanara

And

Transparency International, Karnataka Chapter

By Justice M. F. Saldanha

Retired Judge, Karnataka High Court.

President, The Catholic Association of South Kanara.

Chairman, Transparency International , Karnataka Chapter.

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Justice M.F Saldanha handovers the report of “Attacks on Churches in Mangalore” to Vice President Hamid Ansari

CHAPTER-II:

BURNING OF THE ST. ANTHONY’S CHURCH AT YEDAVANAHALLI, POLICE STATION ATTIBELLE, HOSUR TALUK, ON THE OUTSKIRTS OF BANGALORE- MIDNIGHT OF 12TH OCTOBER 2008.

(Priority is accorded in my Report to this incident which was in fact the last in the order of sequence time-wise because of its extremely dangerous complexion. This was a replication of the Orissa-style of attack using Fire as the weapon of assault- the world has witnessed the horror of persons being burnt alive and Churches and homes being destroyed in Kandhamal District of Orissa-Karnataka cannot allow that deadly virus to infect this pristine State).

Yedavanahalli is a modest village about I Km. off  the Hosur Highway, within the limits of the Attibelle Police Station, which in turn is about half an hour’s drive from the Catholic Church devoted to St. Anthony. The Church stands alone on a plot of land with a few trees around but there are no other structures adjoining it, not even a Priest’s house or a school. It is a medium-sized building, relatively new and well-maintained. The electrical wiring and equipment such as switch-boards, main switches , fuses etc. are of a high quality. It is a modest Church with a few benches for the

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congregation and a coir mat on the ground down the centre. This Church caters to a congregation of about 300 devotees. It is not a Parish Church and the religious services are mainly on Sunday mornings. The Priest who officiates at the services is resident at the Parish which is about 5 K.Ms away (about 20 minutes drive on a two-wheeler). The Church is locked after the services are over. There are a few residential buildings and shops across the road from the Church. Several Catholic families reside in these buildings. The area is relatively well-lighted even at night. The shops close by about 9 P. M. after which there is very little activity in the area. The roads are muddy and narrow, vehicles are few and slow-moving and are very noticeable; more importantly, very audible to everyone in the area, particularly in the stillness of the night. This last aspect is of crucial importance.

After the attacks on Churches and Prayer-centres in different parts of Karnataka on 14th  and 15th September 2008 and thereafter,  and the extreme brutality of the Police directed against the Christian congregation in different parts of Mangalore in and around the Churches there, a delegation of well-placed citizens led by me, met with the Chief Minister, the Home Minister and his Cabinet colleagues to demand immediate preventive and corrective steps. Most of these were very graciously acceded to, one of them being that the C.M. ordered round the clock Police protection to all the Churches in

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the State. This Order was implemented and Police personnel were posted around all the Churches. Two constables were assigned to the St. Anthony’s Church by the Attibele Police Station, they did duty in shifts and were required to sign the Register when they came on duty and left.

An obvious human problem arose for the policemen as there was no shelter for them from the elements, more so when it rained as also when it got cold. They requested the Priest to leave the small side door of the Church open so that they could sit inside or rest as the case may be. Accordingly, the door was left open for them and some facilities were provided. Apart from the Police, nobody else knew about the side-door being left unlocked. There is no hasp for locking this door from the outside but this did not present any apparent security risk as the police were supposed to be present round the clock, even if they relieved each other from time to time. The change of guard was always accompanied by the arrival and departure of a noisy Police vehicle which the residents of the area were used to. What is of consequence is the fact that the van would drop off the new pair of constables, proceed left, turn and comeback, pick up the departing pair and drive off. There was never any occasion for the van to remain there for any period of time. On the night of 12th December all this changed.

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I spent several long hours meeting every single resident and shop-keeper of the area and my persistence paid off as I wanted to re-create the whole incident. One of the residents who lives in front of the Church who fearfully spoke to me in confidence under assurance of anonymity,  states that he was watching TV till a little past midnight and that he had come out for some fresh air. He saw a white coloured  Toyota Qualis  DIESEL which is a rather noisy vehicle, stop in front of the Church gate. What excited his curiosity was the fact that this was not the usual Blue Police vehicle. He saw five persons walk towards the Church, two of them carrying white plastic cans. He assumed that the police constables were carrying their supply of water. These persons had their heads and faces covered and he thought it was because of the cold.

What made our good friend suspicious was the fact that instead of TWO policemen, FIVE persons, that too not in uniform, had pushed the side door open and entered the Church- there was already a light on inside. He decided to wait and watch! The White vehicle was parked near the gate of the church and had a saffron flag on the bonnet. The driver was outside the vehicle, talking on the cell-phone with a saffron shawl over his head. Hardly ten minutes passed and he saw the five persons running back to the vehicle which drove away with a lot of commotion. IT WAS THIS GOOD SAMARITAN who immediately raised an alarm at the top of his voice. Within minutes every human being from the area woke up because the Church was on fire by then. They all rushed to put it out but were unsuccessful.

Contd…….5

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Mysteriously the Police appeared from nowhere- they telephoned the fire-brigade who rushed there from the Electronics City and extinguished the flames. The Priest was telephonically informed and he rushed there. The heat levels were abnormal and nobody could enter the Church till the next morning.

As news of the attack on the Church spread, the S. P. put out the version that the fire was due to an electrical short-circuit and that it was a case of accident. THE COMMISSIONER OF POLICE, BANGALORE IMMEDIATELY WENT LIVE ON TV AND HELD PRESS CONFERENCES BOLDLY STATING THAT IT WAS AN ELECTRICAL SHORT CIRCUIT- IT TURNED OUT THAT THIS MAN HAD NOT EVEN VISITED THE PLACE WHEN HE MADE THESE STATEMENTS! THIS SHANKAR BIDARI IS UNANIMOUSLY RATED AS THE MOST INCOMPETENT MAN TO HAVE HELD THE POST OF POLICE COMMISSIONER, BANGALORE- HE WAS SPECIALLY BROUGHT TO THIS POST BY YEDIYURAPPA AND IS BEING RETAINED THERE DESPITE THE LAW AND ORDER SITUATION HAVING COMPLETELY BROKEN DOWN. THE CHIEF MINISTER YEDIYURAPPA AND HOME MINISTER ACHARYA INSISTED ON  PROPAGATING THIS THEORY IN ORDER TO SHIELD THEIR SAFFRON HENCHMEN WHO WERE THE REAL CULPRITS. This ruse

Contd…6

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did not survive for long because there was too much evidence to the contrary. Despite the fire, the electrical installations were found to be faultless and intact and have been so certified by the Govt.’s own Electrical Inspector. THE SHORT-CIRCUIT/ ACCIDENT THEORY OF THE POLICE IS ESTABLISHED TO BE FALSE.

Why are the Police trying to cover up for an obvious blatant crime? Why did they not register an offence and proceed to nab the offenders? Was there a conspiracy at a higher political level to recall the police and facilitate the crime? The answer is yes. The Police were posted at the Churches under the express orders of the CM and no Police officer howsoever corrupt or bold would have dared to divert the duty constables in defiance of these orders. The fact remains that the two constables were ordered to leave the Church and report at Hotel Guestline a long distance away from where they were to return only after 1 a.m. by which time the operation would be over! The instructions to do this have come from very high up, obviously the Home Minister himself.  The implications are grave. NOT ONLY DOES THIS ESRABLISH A COMPLETE BTEAKDOWN OF THE CONSTITUTIONAL MACHINERY IN KARNATAKA BUT AN OPEN CRIMINAL CONSPIRACY BETWEEN THE HIGHEST OFFICERS OF THE STAE GOVERNMENT AND CRIMINAL ELEMENTS OPERATING IN THE GARB OF COMMUNAL FORCES

Contd…7

:7:

In order to uncover the truth, a virtual microscopic investigation was undertaken and what has been revealed is disturbing. The sequence is as follows:

On the night of the incident around 10 P. M. a group of six young men arrived in a white Toyota Qualis at a small hotel not too far from the Church and spent about two hours there eating and drinking. What was unusual about their visit and why it was remembered was because they asked for  two plastic cans and then sent a boy to get them filled with petrol from the petrol pump which was some distance away.(Since their vehicle ran on Diesel, the boy found it unusual that they had asked for Petrol but he obeyed orders and was generously rewarded for his labour,) They left the hotel only after midnight when the whole area would be asleep and there was nobody around on the roads. They had obviously been assured of the fact that the Police had been diverted as also that the side door of the Church was unlocked. They drove to the Church, parked near the gate and five of them went in while the driver stood guard near the vehicle.

On getting in, the sacred objects were vandalized, petrol was poured on the Yamaha music system that is used for prayer and all around it. The altar was desecrated and it was doused in petrol.  All the prayer-books were piled  on the main altar around the sacred tabernacle and petrol was poured all over the area as the tabernacle was made of metal, was locked and they had no tools to break it open; the next best thing was  to destroy it by fire. Petrol was poured over and around the amplifier and music system in the sacristy.

Contd…8

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The cupboards were opened and all the sacred vestments were vandalized and thrown out. The Holy Books and sacred objects like chalices, monstance etc. were vandalized and thrown on the floor. The entire area was liberally doused in petrol. The last remnants of petrol were poured on the coir mat. Once the vandalisation  was complete,  the fires were ignited and the miscreants ran away to safety. They boarded the vehicle and disappeared because this was when the neighbour raised the alarm. But for the timely action of the people who rushed there, the police who had reappeared and the Fire Brigade, the Church would have been burnt to the ground. All the same, being a petrol induced fire,  the heat was so very intense that the glasses have all shattered and even the plaster has fallen off the ceiling.  All the sacred objects in the Church have been totally destroyed. The building has suffered massive damage and the overall loss is not less than Rs. 15.00 Lakhs.

It is abundantly clear that the objectives  were three-fold:

Vandalise everything sacred to the Christians- a HATE CRIME.  Desecrate the holy objects- an aggravated form of HATE 

Burn down the Church in an attempt to stamp out Christianity

After the Report of the Electrical Inspector was published and the “short-circuit theory of the Police was publicly rubbished” the State Govt . has ordered a belated CoD Enquiry, The fact remains that no offence has been registered nor has anybody been arrested to date. My investigations reveal that the assailants are known anti-social elements from the ADJOINING area. IT WOULD TAKE ONLY FIVE MINUTES TO PICK THEM UP PROVIDED THERE IS THE POLITICAL WILL.

Contd….9

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There is complete communal harmony in the village-members of the other communities have unequivocally condemned the incident. Nobody has at any time attempted any conversions- there is not a single convert in the congregation; it took a lot of time and labour to verify all this. Not a single item has been stolen, on the other hand, the religious items have been viciously desecrated. Why then did the attack take place? This was the starting-point in Karnataka of the unleashing of the Orissa type of violent attacks using FIRE and terrorising the Christian community. As in Orissa, a village  was chosen, fire was used in order to DESTROY and not merely to vandalise and desecrate. What comes across most strongly is that it sends out a clear message  that nothing will happen to those who commit these offences- that encourages them to repeat the crimes as has happened in this case. Again as in Orissa                                                                the Police who are an instrumentality of the State have facilitated the crime and shielded the culprits. The consequences are dangerous. What is far graver is the fact that the Police REPEATEDLY TRIED TO MISLEAD THE GOVT. AND THE PUBLIC BY PUTTING OUT THE FALSE THEORY OF ELECTRICAL SHORT-CIRCUIT.  Both in the case of the Mariannapalya church and this one, the incidents have taken place in the suburbs of the State Capital despite so called Police protection signifying a total breakdown of the rule of law. Each of these cases raises the vexed question: on whose side are the Police?  Not on the side of the victims, most certainly.

Contd..10

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FINDINGS: 

The facts and circumstances of the case unmistakably establish that this was a calculated, preplanned, premeditated attack on a Church on the lines of the September 14th attacks for which the head of the Bajrang Dal has openly boasted of responsibility. It was neither an accident nor a case of electrical short-circuit as falsely contended by the Police In this case the attack was more serious than the earlier ones which were confined to mere vandalising. It is a duplication of the carnage let loose in Orissa. The State Govt. is Constitutionally obliged to take all effective measures necessary to ensure that what has happened in Gujarat and in Orissa does not manifest itself in Karnataka. 23 incidents in five weeks and no action in a single case rings alarm bells, seriously shattering the faith and confidence of the minorities.

The liability of the State for the loss and damage that has occurred is ABSOLUTE. The State is obliged to compensate monetarily to the extent of Rs.15.00 Lakhs (Rupees Fifteen Lakhs Only) in order to at least restore the confidence in the minorities, if at all it is serious about this.

(Justice M. F. Saldanha.)

For Copies Contact:

P.B. D’Sa

President,PUCL Karnataka

“Pauline” , Valencia

Mangalore-575002,     Tel: 0824-4252170/ 9008820186

PEOPLE’S TRIBUNAL REPORT on “CHURCH ATTACK” PART-1

REPORT OF THE PEOPLE’S TRIBUNAL ENQUIRY

Writer: Justice M. F. Saldanha

PEOPLE’S TRIBUNAL ENQUIRY

Conducted at the instance of the

People’s Union for Civil Liberties,

South Kanara, And

The Catholic Association of South Kanara

And

Transparency International, Karnataka Chapter

By Justice M. F. Saldanha

Retired Judge, Karnataka High Court.

President, The Catholic Association of South Kanara.

Chairman, Transparency International , Karnataka Chapter.

**……**……**…..**……**…..**…**

Justice M.F Saldanha handovers the Report of ” Church Attacks in Mangalore in 2008″

to President Prathibha Devi Singh Patil.

:1:

CHAPTER-I:

ATTACK ON THE ADORATION MONASTERY, MILAGRES, MANGALORE.

On the morning of Sunday the 14th September 2008, six persons, five ladies, all around the ages of 50-60 years and a man in his early fifties were silently praying in the modest little Perpetual Adoration Chapel of the Monastery of the Poor Clares located at Falnir Road, right in the centre of Mangalore city. There is a tiny sign at the entrance of a narrow lane leading to the Monastery which is insignificantly tucked away in a small structure about fifty metres from the main road. A small open space adjoins the front of the Monastery. A little door which is always open, leads to the Chapel which has a few benches for the use of the odd devotee who decides to spend time in silent prayer. If ever there was a place that could be called the House of God, this was it. The Nuns never enter this side of the Chapel, they pray from a secluded area at the back of this Chapel or from their private Chapel where they were when the incident occurred.

After Mass daily, The Blessed Sacrament is exposed in a Monstance which is placed in a slightly elevated niche behind the altar. To the left of the Altar is a large Crucifix which is a heritage work of rare art vividly depicting Christ nailed to the Cross.  The CRUCIFIX  is universally accepted as the centrepoint of Christian devotion and is of special significance. The Blessed Sacrament which represents the Body and Blood of Christ is THE most HOLY and SACRED object for all Catholics and any form of disrespect or

Contd….2

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desecration is simply intolerable. The sacred hosts are normally kept in the Tabernacle which is kept locked and in this case was covered by a small veil. What is of relevance is that the Blessed Sacrament is exposed in the Churches only for short periods only at designated prayer times. This Chapel is special- it is a PERPETUAL ADORATION MONASTERY where the Blessed Sacrament is exposed for prayer during the whole day. This is a fact to the special knowledge of only those who come there for prayer. The Chapel is OPEN TO ALL in the sense that there is no restriction on whoever wants to pray there.  People drift by in small numbers at different times. My investigations indicate that a few young men on motorcycles were casually visiting the Chapel at different hours for about three weeks prior to the incident obviously to keep a watch on the place and ascertain a time when there would  be the THINNEST ATTENDANCE which happens to be on a Sunday morning after 10 a.m. Also on that day the Flour Mill and the Printing Press in the lane are closed.

The Monastery houses Ten Nuns and two trainees, all women. This Order of Nuns is totally dedicated  to prayer round the clock, they have renounced the world completely and never come out of the Monastery. Their only contact with visitors, who are extremely rare is by speaking through a thick metal grill- they live a very stark and absteem life of  solitude and simplicity, even growing their own vegetables in the small area behind the building. They hold no religious services for the public- a visiting priest says Mass daily and conducts private religious services for the inmates of the Monastery.

Contd….3

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These Nuns have absolutely no dealings with anybody, they pray for the well-being of all humanity and IT IS UNTHINKABLE THAT A MURDEROUS ASSAULT WAS ATTEMPTED ON THEM. No offerings are made at this Chapel, there is no money or anything of saleable value there. Copies of the Holy Books are placed around the Chapel. THERE IS NO QUESTION OF CONVERSIONS, OFFENSIVE LITERATURE OR FOREIGN MONEY- THIS IS A MONASTERY OF SAINTLY WOMEN IN THE TRUE SENSE OF THE WORD.

Around 10.15 a. m. on Sunday the 14th of September a white Maruti Omni and Four motorcycles arrived at the entrance of the lane. Being Sunday, the shops on the main road were  closed. In all, twelve persons alighted from these vehicles. Two persons remained near the vehicles. The remaining Ten persons entered the lane and went towards the Chapel. All the twelve persons were dressed in saffron clothes and the five vehicles displayed Bajrang Dal flags. Four of the youth were carrying Swords and two were armed with Iron bars. The other four were armed with wooden clubs. They stormed the outer area of the Chapel and started smashing everything in sight shouting slogans. Two of the sword-carriers stood guard outside while the remaining  entered the Chapel area.

The six devotees were terrified- they were given a mild beating and warned to keep still which they did. The attackers went straight for the Crucifix and hit at it.  They SPAT on the image and kicked the pieces that had fallen

Contd…4

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down thereafter smashing everything in sight. They enquired where the Nuns were- they were told that they were inside behind locked doors. Some conversations took place over the Mobile phones in Tulu and Konkani with their bosses and they were apparently instructed to break open the doors of the monastery and attack the nuns which they tried to do unsuccessfully. This was also reported to their control room over the Mobile phone and they were then instructed to go for the Blessed Sacrament. Since it was placed in an elevated place they tried to smash it  amidst loud and filthy abuses. Since the blows came from the front and there was no protection from the back, the Monstance fell through the niche into the secluded area used by the nuns. Unable to get at it the attackers were infuriated and ran wild breaking everything in sight- the six persons in the Chapel received several blows but none of them were fatal because the swords were not used on them. One of them has sustained two fractures, the remaining five have suffered injuries of considerable seriousness requiring expensive medical treatment. All the sacred books were collected in a pile on the FLOOR and amidst vile abuses a decision was taken to BURN THEM. The six persons were made to move out of the Chapel- they were very graciously told in Kannada that their lives were being spared as the targets were the Nuns who might have escaped but that they will get them on the next occasion.

The Mobile phones were ringing madly and a message seems to have come to leave the place immediately as they had already spent considerable time there. The fire operation was fortunately abandoned as we would have been

Contd…5

:5:

otherwise told by the authorities that it was an accident or better, A SHORT CIRCUIT AS IS SUPPOSED TO HAVE HAPPENED IN the case of the fire at the YEDAVANAHALLI CHURCH.  The vehicles were telephonically summoned, the Maruti van and one of the motorcycles came inside to the entrance. Apparently, the regular taxi-drivers opposite Moti Mahal were curious because the number-plates were removed from all the vehicles and all the twelve persons had their faces covered with  shawls as is characteristic with dacoits. It was the curious enquiries from these persons that saved the Chapel from going up in flames. The twelve persons then drove through the CITY-CENTRE i.e. Hampankatta with the motor-cycle riders waving their swords in triumph and the Police on duty smiling as though it was a huge joke. I  would have expected the Police to clap and cheer! Ironically, the joke making the rounds in Bangalore is that very soon the Police will be attired in saffron and not khaki uniforms. It took me a lot of labour and time to track down the six persons who are the eyewitnesses- they had been warned not to open their mouths and spoke to me in confidence on assurance of anonymity. The two taxi-drivers are similarly traumatized and I have assured them of confidentiality. I have carefully cross-questioned each of the eight of them who were interviewed separately on different days- they do not know each other but their versions tally to the letter. I have no hesitation in holding that they are speaking the truth.

Few things shock me at my age- I have seen many many very good Police officers and excellent work by the Police but I have regretfully also seen the other side of the picture. There is a charge that all these attacks have political


JUSTICE M. F. SALDANHA (Retd.)

For Copies Contact:

P.B. D’Sa

President,PUCL Karnataka

“Pauline” , Valencia

Mangalore-575002,     Tel: 0824-4252170/ 9008820186

REPORT OF THE PEOPLE’S TRIBUNAL ENQUIRY

REPORT OF THE PEOPLE’S TRIBUNAL ENQUIRY

Writer: Justice M. F. Saldanha

PEOPLE’S TRIBUNAL ENQUIRY

Conducted at the instance of the

People’s Union for Civil Liberties,

South Kanara, And

The Catholic Association of South Kanara

And

Transparency International, Karnataka Chapter

By Justice M. F. Saldanha

Retired Judge, Karnataka High Court.

President, The Catholic Association of South Kanara.

Chairman, Transparency International , Karnataka Chapter.

..**..**..**..**..**..**..**..**..

Justice M.F Saldanha handovers the report of “Attacks on Churches in Mangalore-2008” to Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh

:1:

FOREWORD

                       I was in London on Sunday, 14th September 2008, when my very close friend whom I have known since half a century, Mohan, who virtually grew up with me in Mangalore, rang me up from Delhi. There was anguish in his voice and he asked me what on earth is going on in Mangalore and how it was possible.  Both of us graduated from Mangalore’s famous St. Aloysius School & College in the year 1962.  Prior to that, we had spent over 10 years in that institution, and in those days, grown up with atleast four religions represented on one bench in school and college.  For us, whether it was Eid, Diwali, Gurunanak Jayanthi or Christmas, it was all the same and the cause for joy and celebration.  We did not consider a mosque, a gurudwara, a temple or a church as something different nor were the followers of other faiths to be either preferred or disliked.  I am in this context reminded of the book authored by His Excellency Bharadwaj, present Governor of Karnataka entitled India – a Fellowship of Faiths. My best friend through my school days was a boy by the name of Gopalakrishna Bhat who was the son of the Head Poojary of Mangalore’s famous Ganapathi Temple and I have been into and around this temple in his company for longer or equal periods of time as I used to spend in our own Churches.  This was representative of the harmonious blend  of religious culture during those years and this held good in the subsequent decades when I have gone back to Mangalore for various periods of time as my late Mother continued to live there till 2001 when she was called away to her heavenly abode. This was merciful because the happenings in the Karavali area with particular emphasis on Mangalore would have been too much for her!

The first thing that Mohan said was that he could not believe what he was seeing on TV.  Mangalore, for its number of Churches and the strong representation of Catholics, was at one time known as the Rome of the East.  It is also a well known pilgrimage centre because of many Hindu temples and shrines around the District, the Shringeri Mutt being very well known and the Kadri temple having a history that goes back to the days of the Ramayan.  There is a strong representation of Jains and some very famous and beautiful monuments and temples starting with Dharmasthala, Moodabidri, Karkala and Shravanabelagola.  While you have all the different faiths or religions represented in the coastal area or the Karavali which extends from Karwar to Mangalore,  there is also a significant number of Muslims and there is hardly a City, town or village in the region where the beautiful outlines of a mosque, big or small are not to be found.  Despite all of this, the harmony was significant and there has not been a single recorded incident till the year 2000 in the whole of this region that can be put down to communal or inter religious conflict.

Mohan was right when he expressed  his utter disbelief and horror when he watched the police mercilessly assaulting the congregation around the Milagres Church and when the camera focused on about a dozen instances of violence that had been simultaneously executed on that morning.  The broken Crucifix at the Adoration Monastery sent shock waves across the whole world and the live coverage by the media of incident after incident depicting the highest levels of hatred being portrayed by Hindu Fundamentalists in the devastation of the most sacred of areas belonging to the Christian community, but above all, the unspeakable levels of cruelty, sadism and horrifying levels of violence, shockingly enough at the hands of the State Machinery made the headlines in the International Media. BBC and CNN carried all of this as its main headline for the next 24 hours and even when we went to Heathrow Airport for our flight from London, this was the talk of the terminal. The nation watched in  disbelief, because the atrocities against the Christians in Orissa for over a year, particularly in Khandamal had reached intolerable levels, the most distressing feature being that the BJP Government which was in power in that State had completely identified itself with the Bajrang Dal.  There were some serious blemishes as far as those incidents were concerned because the memory of Dr. Steines and his children being burnt alive and Dara Singh and his Bajrang Dal associates openly claiming responsibility was something unbelievable. Ironically enough, the Government of India set up an enquiry headed by Justice Wadhwa of the Supreme Court which was good enough to give the miscreants a clean chit and even compliment them as being good citizens !    The incidents in Gujarat, again a BJP run state, portrayed levels of crime, cruelty and horror that could only have been matched by Nazi war crimes and after this, came Mangalore. Once again, a BJP Government in power and Karnataka outdid Orissa and Gujarat.


Historically, Dakshina Kannada District has been a very long standing RSS / VHP stronghold.  Right from the days of the freedom movement and thereafter when Gandhiji was assassinated by a group of fanatics who maintained that his brand of politics was unacceptable to the Hindu fundamentalists, the District has always been the nerve-centre of these movements with regular morning drills on the maidans, processions, baithaks and sammelanas. These activities took a violent turn after the year 2000 when it was found very convenient to target the Muslim community on the ground that they are allegedly anti-nationals and that they are disloyal to this country. It is an offence under the IPC to indulge in any form of communal disharmony but the offensive  articles kept regularly appearing in the Press headed by a leading Kannada daily owned by some industrialists from Manipal, particularly after the Bombay Bomb Blasts and violent incidents in different parts of the country.  Mangalore in particular, and some of the other towns in the Karavali area were prone to Hindu Muslim violence though on a relatively small and isolated scale but this was definitely a disturbing factor.  Never had it happened before that the Christian community had been attacked.

The attacks that took place on 14th September 2008 were well planned, pre meditated and executed with precision. What was very significant was the fact that wherever this took place, the police protection was zero vis-à-vis the victims though they were providing cover to the attackers, shocking as it may appear; but in the immediate aftermath it was the police who were the main assailants, aided and abetted by the saffron political activists.  Again, there was absolutely no doubt about the origin of the violence because the local President of the Bajrang Dal wherever the attacks took place, has appeared repeatedly before the Media claiming full responsibility for what was done and even promising to step up the violence.  I have devoted one Chapter in this Report towards recounting the double standards of the State Government which targeted the Editor of a particular paper and he almost lost his life in the process, only because he reported the incidents regularly and chastised the Government for its support, instigation and abetment and more importantly, total cover up.

Immediately after my return ro Bangalore, a representative group of citizens officially called on the Chief Minister and the Home Minister and demanded immediate and deterrent corrective action. The National and world public opinion had swung so heavily against the Karnataka Government that the Chief Minister and the Home Minister immediately came out with the usual assurances that all necessary steps would be taken to prevent any recurrence of any of these activities.  In actual fact, nothing was done.  A lone Police Constable or sometimes two of them, and that too unarmed, were asked to make an appearance around Churches and whenever anything unpleasant took place, the police were absent as happened at Yadavanahalli near Bangalore, where the constables had been recalled by plan when the miscreants attacked the Church, vandalized and burnt it. Both the Chief Minister and the Home Minister tried to repeat the charge of the Bajrang Dal that conversions were the cause for the attacks; when asked to substantiate this, they were unable to do so and when conclusive evidence to the contrary was pointed out, there was no answer.  Shortly after the attacks, the local RSS Chief in his public exhortation before Dasara incited his followers by stating that “this Dasara when the Ayudha Pooja is done, do not do the pooja of your implements of trade as was the old custom but do the pooja to trishuls, knives and talwars (swords) as these will have to be used.”  This sensational speech was carried on the front pages of all the dailies in the State and by the TV Channels and I had brought this to the notice of the CM and the Home Minister at the Circuit House in Mangalore.  They told me that they had already seen the papers, but both of them said in one voice that they had spoken to the RSS Chief who claimed that he had been had been misquoted.  I pointed out that the maker of the speech had neither retracted nor denied it and there was complete silence.  In the super charged atmosphere, such an incitement was actionable in law but nothing was done. On the contrary, immediately after 14th September, 2008, oral instructions had been issued by the Home Minister personally, which the Heads of the Police Department admitted on over a dozen occasions to me, that whenever a complaint was received against any member of the Christian community on the allegation that attempts were being made to convert, that the person should be arrested, bail should be opposed and that they should be given a good beating while in custody. Whereas prior to 14th September 2008, there had not been a single arrest under these provisions of Law anywhere in the State, suddenly, hundreds of cases were being registered.

The sequence is illustrated from what happened outside the Mangalore Market.  An institution run by nuns had adopted on orphan Hindu girl by the name of Savithri, who was working for the convent as a maid on salary, apart from being given food, clothing, shelter and education.  Savithri and a nun were on their way to the market to make their daily purchases when a group of activists surrounded them.  They were physically assaulted on the road and dragged to the local police station.  At the police station, there were more activists present than police.  A complaint was lodged that the girl aged 16 who was a Hindu was being converted.  An FIR was immediately registered.  The violent incident on the road brought the media to the Police Station.  The girl herself pointed out that she had spent eleven years at the institution, that nobody had asked her to convert and that she still professed the Hindu faith, that she was happy and well looked-after, and that she had absolutely no cause for complaint.  This was recorded live by the Media as also the fact that there were about 50 activists, five officers and nine constables present in the Police Station.  The Police even threatened the girl and ordered her to sign the false complaint that had been written out but she refused to do it.  They were detained for four hours on the ground that the higher authorities were being consulted and only because of the presence of the Media, they were then released. The next day, a complaint was registered by the same Police Station on behalf of one Chandralekha, also from Mangalore, stating that she had been paid Rs.100/- to convert to Christianity.  The media questioned her when she frankly admitted that she was asked to sign the complaint and that she had never received the money and further that the complaint was directed against an unknown person.

At a subsequent meeting with the Chief Minister and the Home Minister, a demand was put forward that the three Police Officers, SP, Sathish Kumar, Inspector, Jayanth Shetty and PI Ganapathy against whom there was overwhelming documentary evidence of violence of the most extreme form and incidentally, who had been found guilty of the highest form of misconduct by no less a person than the additional DG and IG Police, should be transferred out of the District and subjected to disciplinary proceedings.  At that time, the strongest encouragement to errant police officers came from the fact that not only would they get away with  criminality of this type but further, but furthermore, that they were assured of full protection by the Home Dept. This public demand for action against these officers who had disgraced the Department was naturally rejected and these three officers continued to play havoc in the District. One of them was even promoted. 

There was also a demand that the incidents / attacks should be enquired into by a Commission headed by a Supreme Court Judge and not somebody from Karnataka.  The reason for this was pointed out, because this was a case in which there were serious charges not only against the Police but also against the State administration, all the way up to the Home Minister and the Chief Minister and that therefore, an Enquiry under the Commission of Enquiry Act, was required and that the State Government which was the real accused, should neither fund the Enquiry nor have anything to do with it.  The reasons for this were obvious, because unless the enquiry was wholly independent, it would be a total waste of time and money and above all, it would not inspire any public confidence.  Despite all these reasons being put forward, the Chief Minister went ahead and instituted an enquiry to be held by a Retd. High Court Judge from Bangalore.  The Enquiry was instituted and funded by the State Government which is the very body against whom the most serious charges have been made.  Experience has shown that in situations such as these, an Enquiry is set up as an eyewash and it is a convenient ploy for the State Government  to contend for years together that the Report is awaited and every form of corrective action is put into cold storage.   To quote a specific example, in the present instance, there is unassailable evidence against the DC, the SP and two other Police Officers to name a few, as also against some of the top politicians,  but the ground that is being given is that nothing should be done until the Enquiry report is available.  We have several precedents in this country, in fact, in almost every one of these cases, where the Enquiries have gone on for so long, that the incident is buried and forgotten long before the Report emerges.   The classic instance is the Liberhan Commission Report which took seventeen years and eight months.   The notable exception is the Justice Srikrishna Commission Report, wherein the Judge has indicted a very large number of persons but again, for over ten years, the Government has done nothing by way of action taken.  Invariably, these reports not only cover up but defend and justify the actions like happened in the case of the Wadhwa Commission where the self proclaimed killers of Dr. Steines and his children were not only exonerated but were complemented.  The Enquiry Commission headed by Justice Somashekar has been holding sittings for over a year and the hearings themselves are no where near ending.   Again there are serious complaints with regard to the procedure that is being followed and more than one Petition was filed before the High Court alleging serious bias.  To quote just one example, where the local police used muscle power and unjustifiably locked up a small prayer centre at the instance of the saffron brigade, the Commission issued a direction when requested that the place be opened at least for the festive season of Christmas that the pastor and the congregation will have to abide by the decision of the local police and the administration in the matter.   In the first instance, there was no ground for the police intervention and the locking of the prayer centre by them was 100% illegal.   When an application was made to the local Court, the proceeding was dismissed on the ground that it should be made before the Commission.  The Commission has neither the power nor the jurisdiction in a dispute of this type in spite of which, it passed a detailed order virtually remanding the Applicants to the very wrong doers against whom they had complained namely the police and the local administration.  While setting aside this order and directing the immediate reopening, the High Court had occasion to pass severe strictures againstthe Commission.

One of the main limitations in the manner in which these Commissions operate is that since, an office is set up, a car is provided, staff made available and lawyers are appointed all of whom are well paid, apart from a hefty allowance to the person heading the Commission, it is found highly desirable for the proceedings to continue endlessly.  There is no difficulty in holding sittings at different places asking for mountains of affidavits and documents, calling for tons of records and examining unending number of witnesses.   Apart from the time factor, it is customary to reproduce all of this in the Report as a result of which, it usually runs into a large number of volumes out of which even the relevant portions have to be culled out from thousands of pages.  Not only does nobody do this, but the report invariably gathered dust on the government racks, because, the date of the Report is so far removed in point of time that the incident has faded out of human memory, most of the culprits, be they politicians, public officials or local leaders are either dead or not traceable and nobody is really interested in the Report. The happiest part of the story is that the culprits get away.

BY ITS VERY NATURE, WHEN A COMMISSION OF ENQUIRY IS SET UP, IT PRE-SUPPOSES THE FACT THAT SOMETHING OF IMMENSE PUBLIC CONSQUENCE HAS TAKEN PLACE, THAT IT IS VERY NECESSARY TO EXAMINE THE CAUSES AND EFFECTS AND TO IDENTIFY THE CULPRITS AND MORE IMPORTANTLY, TO PRESENT THE REAL PICTURE, HOWSOEVER UNPLEASANT IT MAY BE, SO THAT, IF THE NEED ARISES, THE MAIN PERPETRATORS OF THE OFFENCES AGAINST HUMANITY CAN BE IDENTIFIED, SHAMED, PUNISHED AND DEBARRED FROM PUBLIC LIFE.  IF THIS DOES NOT HAPPEN, THE VERY PURPOSE OF SETTING UP THE ENQUIRY IS TOTALLY FRUSTRATED  – ON THE CONTRARY, IF IT TURNS INTO AN EXERCISE OF EXONERATION AND COVER UP, THEN IT CAN ONLY BE TERMED AS DOWN RIGHT SHAMEFUL.

In my capacity as Head of Transparency International in Karnataka, I agreed to the wide-spread demand that a wholly independent People’s Enquiry be instituted even if for the first time.  The main demand came from the Peoples Union of Civil Liberties (PUCL) which is one of the very credible and well respected institutions that has fought for over 50 years for human rights and propriety.   I am also the President of the Catholic Association of South Kanara (CASK).  It was finally decided that these three institutions would jointly assist in holding an independent, totally unbiased investigation into the incidents relating to the Church attacks and incidental matters.   That is the genesis of this enquiry. I am happy to point out that it is a one man enquiry and I was requested to conduct it, principally because of my track record that has been defined as unimpeachable and also because of the fact that through my 15 years in the Judiciary, I have never ever compromised with regard to the right verdict irrespective of whether it involved the rich and the powerful or the highest in the land. I was considerably gratified when this happened and even though it would involve about a year of extremely tiresome traveling and delicate fact finding, I decided to do it in the national interest, more importantly from the human rights angle which is a concept to which I have been deeply devoted over the last 50 years.

Even if it was a question of breaking new ground, I decided to completely do away with the court-room procedure of holding formal sittings.  What inspired me was the fact that at one of the World Conferences on Environment which I Inaugurated in Monteray, U. S. A., a young lawyer from the Philippines, Antonio Opposo, brought the house down when he pointed out that in one of the cases, instead of the traditional method of bringing loads of evidence to the Judge which is expensive, difficult and time consuming, that they followed the innovative procedure of taking the Judge to the evidence which they did by using a helicopter.  The results were amazing.  That is the procedure that I followed in this case, as in many criminal trials, when the Judge visits the scene of offence, I have gone to each of these spots, most of the time incognito which has helped immensely.   I have met the victims, I met the people of the area and I have looked for independent corroboration all of which I have intelligently sought out, thanks to my 35 years experience as a top Criminal Lawyer.   On many of the expert areas like injuries, effects of stale teargas and the like, I have gone to the experts, sat down with them and have been guided by the best brains in the field.   At the same time, since the State Government was virtually on the mat in this case, I have called for explanations from the individuals concerned by meeting them all the way upto the very highest.  While the State Chief Minister, Home Minister, DG Police and the top bureaucrats did in fact meet me, when it came to the lower officials such as the SP of Mangalore, the DC Mangalore and different ranks of Police Officers, they refused to meet or cooperate or produce any records.  Though, under the Evidence Act, I would have been justified in straight-away drawing an adverse inference, the procedure followed by me was to proceed on the basis of the intrinsic evidence.  My very long experience at the Bar and on the Bench did provide me with enough experience and guidance with regard to the need to be cautious,  particularly in the case of evidence from the victims and to look for independent corroboration before recording findings.

In preparing this Report, I have had to avoid to a very large extent the mentioning of names because the situation is still far from comfortable and I cannot punish and penalise small and innocent persons most of whom have already suffered or many others like taxi drivers, shopkeepers, residents of the area etc. who would be vulnerable and who have asked that their names should not be disclosed.   All the material that appears in this Report is essentially in the form of findings and conclusions, briefly supported by reasons wherever necessary.

This is not on the lines of a Court Judgment where charges, evidence and points of Law are elaborately reproduced and debated.   In these days of environmental conservation, I cannot get myself to producing a report running into 30,000 pages which no sane person will even want to look at.   What you have here is a digested version.   I am conscious of the fact that it is hard hitting in many places but that is only an under statement because one look at the videos of the incidents would be exceedingly disturbing.   Secondly, the Report is possibly “DAMNING” but that is inevitable because it has to fix the blame wherever necessary.

Undoubtedly, this is a departure from the conventional norms but it is something that the situation requires and which is the need of the hour.   I have broken new ground in many areas and concepts while at the Judiciary which has been commended nationally and internationally because of the speed and efficacy factors and the fact that it has served the interests of Justice.   Though, I would have liked to have completed the exercise in a shorter time-frame, my academic commitments and traveling has contributed to some delays.   It is my earnest desire that this Report which is totally unbiased and which is also for a change, fearless and correct, should be acted upon in the public interest.

In conclusion, I have been guided by my commitments to propriety and principles on which there can be no compromise and this Report is dedicated to my favorite Indian poet, the one and only Rabindranath Tagore and to his immortal words from the Gitanjali:

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high;

Where knowledge is free;

Where the world has not broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls;

Where the words come out from the depth of truth;

Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection;

Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the dreary desert sand of dead habit;

Where the mind is led forward by thee into ever widening thought and action;

Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.

MY ENLISTMENT AS A BAJRANG DAL MEMBER!

During the months of September to December 2008 and to a large extent, in the months that followed, the BJP Government in Karnataka had given the Bajrang Dal a free hand to run wild, particularly in the Karavali area.  Groups of young activists would be driving two wheelers, jeeps and cars  prominently flying saffron flags as an intimidatory gesture to all other communities. This had never happened before.  These persons would indulge in violence at the slightest pretext, most of the time, without any cause. The police stations and the hospitals had been instructed by the Home Department not to entertain and register any complaints from the victims and within a few weeks, it was clear all over the State particularly the Karavali area that it was useless approaching any of these forums.  What distresses me particularly is the fact that this infection had spread both to the Bar and to the subordinate judiciary in the whole of the area.   A good percentage of the lawyers openly proclaimed allegiance to the BJP, which as citizens they were entitled to do , but this did not mean that they should side with and defend atrocities that were going on and conversely, refuse to entertain litigants who were victims.  I consider it a matter not of regret but of absolute shame that this epidemic had completely taken over the subordinate judiciary as a result of which all the remaining lawyers openly proclaimed that they were completely helpless because applications for bail, were summarily rejected and all other complaints filed, were also summarily dismissed.

It was in this unpleasant atmosphere that I was required to do my investigations.  I invariably went around incognito, did not by and large hold any formal sittings, concentrated on visiting every spot where the incidents had taken place and on meeting the victims, the witnesses and members of the media and others who could provide me with reliable and authentic data.  This involved a lot of travel and I would use a private taxi.   Most of the time, I was accompanied by Mr. P.B. D’sa, head of PUCL or one other person who knew the exact locations and the persons to be contacted.

On the very second day, our car was stopped at Nantoor by a group of Bajrang Dal activists.  The Driver was made to pay Rs.100/- (Rupees One Hundred Only) and he was given a flag which had to be attached to the car.  He was also made to pay Rs.50/- (Rupees Fifty Only) in return for which, he was given a piece of saffron cloth which resembled a mini shawl.  The instructions were that these must be displayed on the vehicle, as otherwise, there was a chance of the vehicle being stoned and injuries taking place.

I was asked to get down which I did and was asked to pay a contribution of Rs.500/- (Rupees Five Hundred Only) to the Bajrang Dal, in return for which, I would be given membership. I told them that I did not have that amount of money, where upon, after some negotiation, they settled for Rs.110/- (Rupees One Hundred Ten Only). One of them got into the car and we were taken to a roadside shed near pump-well; inside, it was a full-fledged office with good furniture, telephones, computers, and even Air-conditioning! I was asked to write my name and address in a register there and to sign it which I did.  I was then informed that I was now a member of the organization. I asked for a receipt and membership documents and I was told that I would receive these in the post.   These never arrived.

Why did I so voluntarily agree ?  First of all, I did not have any choice because under the BJP State Government with the Rule of Law having disappeared, I would have been assaulted or possibly killed if I did not agree. It was too dangerous phoning the Police who would have definitely arrested me and beaten me up and my colleagues in the subotdinate Judiciary would have denied me bail!  I was more interested in completing my assignment and was not worried about the small amount of money that I had to part with.   If the Bajrang Dal is willing to produce their register from the pump-well office, dated the 9th November 2008 (time 10.40 a.m.) which appeared to be a full fledged official register, there is an entry in my handwriting both in English and in Kannada in the name of Justice Michael F. Saldanha with my full residential address and telephone numbers.  More importantly, I was interested in meeting with these people and getting from them a first hand account of the nature of their activities.  Both at Nantoor and at the pump-well office, the activists who were around were in the age group of 15 to 30, extremely well dressed wearing very fashionable footwear and speaking to each other in Konkani, Tulu and in Kannada. I tried to find out in my own way whether they belonged to the category of unemployed persons, but they told me that they were all fulltime Party workers and therefore, had no other jobs.  This was not the only occasion when we were stopped because it became a regular feature when we were driving around but the saffron flag and shawl gave us immunity from any attacks.  The good part of it was, it also provided for me a friendly approach and disclosure of whatever I wanted to know.

The first interesting area was with regard to the income of these persons.   They admitted that they did not draw any salary from the Organisation, but referred to two interesting heads called collections and donations.   According to them, they extracted whatever money they wanted from members of the public, shopkeepers and businessmen under these two heads and told me that nobody refuses.  To a direct question as to whether money was extorted under threat, they were quick to tell me that they never needed to threaten anybody because the atmosphere was such that people VOLUNTARILY gave them money whenever they asked for it. FULL MARKS TO DR. ACHARYA, THE STATE HOME MINISTER!  

Then comes the most interesting disclosure. I was informed that I was entitled to a new two-wheeler free of cost and that this would be given to me from the Party Office.   For this however, I had to go there and meet the Committee and satisfy them that I would do fulltime activity, upon which, I would receive the vehicle which would not be registered in my name but that I would be free to use it without any restrictions.  What was even better was the news that once it carried the requisite flag that I would be entitled to unlimited fuel because one was required to drive into any petrol station, draw the fuel and drive off without paying and I was assured no questions would be asked.   This arrangement explains how these activists were able to parade around the area day and night, terrorising the public.   Interestingly enough, though, I assume that the pump operators were too frightened to ask for the money, the information that was volunteered was to the effect that the pump operators were Party members who assisted these activities as their contribution!  I never got to claiming the two wheeler, I could not verify anything in this area regarding the fuel but all of this was obviously correct.

Then we come to an even more interesting area.  I was informed that I would be free to enter any shop, pick up whatever items of clothing I wanted and walk out without paying.   This possibly explained how well dressed these activists were, but again, I have not verified on this as I had neither the time nor the desire.   What I found really unpalatable was what followed.  One of the nicest entitlements of becoming an activist was that one could enter any Bar / Hotel or eating house, partake of whatever one wanted and leave without paying.  There were wide spread complaints right through this period of incidents where these persons would enter the hotel and if they were asked for payment against their food or drink, they would threaten to use violence and smash the place.  For some reason, they would always frequent the Bar-cum-restaurant selling non-vegetarian food and the universal threat was that they would smash up the establishment on the ground that they were selling beef. (When I chatted these fellows up they told me always to ask for Beef as the Mutton was very bony! SO MUCH FOR THE BJP’S DEMAND TO BAN COW ALAUGHTER- WHERE WILL THEIR ACTIVISTS GET THEIR BEEF FROM?) Through the whole of the Karavali area, the majority of eating houses are run by Muslims and Christians where non vegetarian food is served and they were the regular targets.   I am aware of how hard the owners work, how small their margins of profit were and how they could ill afford to have their place attacked.  To exploit small persons of this category was to my mind, the height of wickedness, but this is what was going on.   It was only after several weeks when the minorities got together, regrouped and decided that they would protect themselves from these anti social elements and the Government machinery both of which were synonymous, that  there were some improvements to  the situation.

The last part is probably the best! Having got an insight into the life-styles of the fundamentalist mafia which is no different from any other, in lighter vein, I asked them about the “other” rather pleasurable benefits- whether the no-pay rule held good in BROTHELS? I never got a straight answer but I was assured that “NOBODY DARES ASK US FOR MONEY.” I refer to this bawdy aspect because I am horrified that some poor women have to sell themselves to keep alive and that the exploitation goes right down to this area. ALL THIS IN THE NAME OF RELIGION.

Having got a first hand account of the lifestyle of these activists, the last area that was really concerning me was the question as to how ultimately all these nefarious activities were being financed.   Through the weeks and months, I made it a point to investigate into this area and I found that there were three main areas.  The largest amount of money which ran into crores of rupees was siphoned out from the Government funds. The Chief Minister, the Home Minister and their colleagues would announce massive amounts of money being earmarked for all sorts of activities, celebrations, sammelans, donations to Mutts and Temples and so-called grants for developing areas around these places.   The aggregate runs into thousands of crores and it is not a small amount.   Also, many of the big businessmen and institutions in the District were active supporters who channelised large amounts of money for these activities.    The third source came from amounts that were extorted from unwilling persons under the threat of violence.  The aggregate of these channels was enough to attract not hundreds but thousands of young men and women who wanted a carefree life with all the good things on offer.  I was under the impression that the basic driving force was religious fervor, but I was wrong here because in all my investigations, I did not find a single individual who had even the remotest of such commitments.

The end result of this operation was that I was left with a very sad taste.   As is happening in many other parts of the world, large sections of the youth are being diverted into a form of fundamentalism that breeds violence and hate and which is the root cause of all the unfortunate incidents that are taking place.

FRIENDSHIP WITH THE RAM SENA

Through the years, I had no occasion to hear of the organization entitled Ram Sena which came into prominence around this period of time, because many demonstrations took place under this banner, but more importantly there was a long series of violent incidents that took place under the so-called patronage of this organization.  I read a lot in the Press about these activities and the Head of the Group repeatedly issued statements to the effect that they were basically concerned with all aspects of public morality.

On a number of occasions, our car would be stopped by the activists belonging to the Ram Sena and my curiosity got the better of me, so, I would spend considerable time with these persons trying to find out what exactly was their philosophy or commitments were, but  more importantly as to how they had drifted into this organization.   My research indicated that most of them were doing petty jobs such as working as Mechanics, Welders, Carpenters and the like where the earnings were modest.   They would spend most of their time away from their jobs carrying out whatever activities they were asked to perform.  Unlike the Bajrang Dal, they did not work fulltime or part time but were in fact called up whenever required.   They were not provided with vehicles nor did they seem to collect money through extortions.   Over the large number of occasions when I met them and spent time with them, I was never once asked to become a member, but they did suggest that I should donate some money, but I was not forced to do it when I politely stated that I did not want to. It finally emerged that they were being funded very generously by the leader of one of the Other Political parties who was hell-bent on embarrassing the State Government.  


It was extremely perplexing to find out as to where the finances came for these activities.   The explanation was that it was a political organization and that it was financed by some of the top politicians but no specific names were disclosed.   There were allegations in the Press that under the guise of moral policing, hotels, restaurants and particularly pubs and bars were being blackmailed and that this was a substantial channel of finance, but I did not get to verify any of these nor do I consider it necessary.   The closest indication came from the fact that many of these youngsters were quite naïve and told me that whenever they were ordered to do any “Galata” that they did so.   I gather from this that they were essentially used to disturb the peace and cause trouble.

One area where their activity was very prominent was in relation to the student community and the teenagers.   The pub attack in Mangalore not only made International headlines but virtually disgraced the country all over the world.   There were no less than over a hundred incidents within a short period of time where boys and girls belonging to the Muslim and Christian communities were mercilessly beaten up, kidnapped, abducted and terrorised on the ground that they were associating with members of another community. There were as many as 218 such incidents reported from all over the State, the bulk of them from the District. In not even one of these cases was anybody arrested.  Anticipatory Bail was freely available and in the small number of instances, where some limited action was taken by the Police principally under public pressure, the subordinate judiciary was quick to grant bail within minutes with the police and prosecutors actively cooperating.

At a later stage, when the DC of Mangalore issued a Show-cause notice to the Head of this Organisation under the Police Act, for purposes of externing him; where the procedures were followed and a perfectly valid and legally sustainable order was passed, it goes to the credit of one of the Judges of the Hon’ble Karnataka High Court to have intervened and stayed the Order in question. With all my knowledge of Criminal Law and 15 years of deep seated experience of this class of cases in the Judiciary, I find it impossible to either justify or defend this Order. It is sad that such things are happening because the Judiciary is the last resort of the citizen and when that institution fails or creates a let down situation, it is total disaster.

14th September 2008 to Republic Day 2010, approximately 500 days and today, the 1000th attack on a Church has taken place at Mysore. The Central Government has issued more than one warning to the State Government.  The citizens are told that the situation is happy and under control, principally because the greater part of the media is being fed/appeased with massive publicity advertisements which have cost the State eqchequer  over 4000 crores of rupees, most of the money clandestinely billed to the various Govt. Corporations and Public bodies. All of these extoll the State Government and its leaders for so-called progressive measures and development whereas in fact, the statistics show that the State had been pushed back by half a century. This publicity which is a desperate cover for non performance is only second to the BJPs India shining publicity programme but is as expensive and in return, the media have been asked to black out or down play every single attack.  These have been continuing all over the State at an accelerated pace and today was the 1000th attack at Mysore.  Again, prior to 14.09.2008, there was not a single case registered in Karnataka on the ground of alleged conversions.  After the attacks and all the allegations made under this head, even if anybody wanted to attempt anything around these lines, it would never have been done.  Every police station in the State has been asked to register at least 50 cases a month under this head, people are dragged to the police station under false allegations, immediately locked up, beaten up and denied bail by the lower judiciary which functions as the loyal partner of the Police Department and refuses bail on the ground that “the police have objected.”   468 persons who function as Pastors or Priests in rural areas have been targeted in this short period of time, numerous others have been threatened and beaten up, the police are totally out of control with the lower judiciary having abdicated its constitutional obligation of safeguarding the citizens rights particularly from a tyrannical State machinery, while the State Government proclaims that everything is peaceful.   Nothing is further from the truth.

To those who contend that the Church attacks of 2008 were a one- time affair or that the situation is under control and that communal attacks have stopped, the last paragraph should come as an eye- opener.  Many persons asked me at the Republic Day Parade as to who is the biggest offender when it comes to ignoring the Constitution and offending its mandate and I have to regretfully tell them that it is not individual citizens but the Governments themselves and in this case, the State Government.  Many others asked us to what is the relevance of a report such as this one, long after 14.09.2008 – I reminded them of how the destructive and communal forces are on the INCREASE and that a Report which is an eye-opener is intended to be an antidote.  This Report is as timely and relevant today as it would have been in September and October 2008. 

Bangalore

26th January 2010                                                                                                                             Justice Michael F. Saldanha(Retd.)

For Copies Contact:

P.B. D’Sa

President,PUCL Karnataka

“Pauline” , Valencia

Mangalore-575002,     Tel: 0824-4252170/ 9008820186

Fact finding report about causing serious road accident to a Muslim and forcibly make him drink liquor by DAR Police to cover their offence on 25th January 2010 at Nagori, Mangalore

Fact finding report about causing serious road accident to a Muslim and forcibly make him drink liquor by DAR Police to cover their offence on 25th January 2010 at Nagori, Mangalore

 On hearing from PUCL members and on reading reports in the news papers on 26th January 2010 a fact finding committee was formed consisting of Mr. Harsha Raj Gatty General Secretary, Mohammed Kabir Vice president and P.B.D’Sa the President of PUCL, who visited the Unity Hospital at Falnir where the injured gentleman Ibrahim (45years) of Kannur was admitted. The committee was not able to meet and talk to Ibrahim as he was in intensive care unit. Till the time this report was made ready on 29th January 2010, Ibrahim was not brought out from the intensive care unit.

The committee met relatives of Ibrahim and located Mr. Ashok Kumar M, who was an eyewitness to the accident and who followed the case till he met the superintendent of Police Dr. A Subramaneshwar Rao in his office. Who took immediate-action against the driver of the van KA-19G306 of the police department. This case would not have come to light at all if a good Samaritan like Ashok Kumar M, an authorized agent for ICICI Lombard – general insurances- was not available at the spot. We have come across thousands of such cases not coming to light at all because of unscrupulous methods followed by the police as a normal routine.  

Mr. Ashok kumar M was kind enough to visit PUCL office at 7:30PM on 28th January 2010 to narrate the entire happings from 6:15pm. When the accident took place at Nagori on 25 January 2010. Mr. Ashok Kumar M who was behind the Police van in his scooter categorically states the Police van was driven wrecklessly  at a very high speed  which knocked down Ibrahim who was standing nearly 10 feet away from the Dammared Road waiting for a bus. The place of accident is Nagori and not Adayar as reported in the papers. Mr. Ashok Kumar says after knocking down Ibrahim the driver was trying to speed away from the site who was stopped by the pedestrians. It was quite apparent and clearly visible that the driver and the other Police men who got down from the Van were so much drunk that they were not able to stand straight. Under the pressure from the public and Ashok the police dragged the seriously injured Ibrahim and crudely and brutally dragged to the van it was very clear that police were unable to lift Ibrahim in that drunken condition. Before taking Ibrahim into the van the driver reversed the vehicle to a little distance when three of the constables could have come under the wheel if the people present were not to raise an alarm. This was the condition of the police on duty. Because Ashok Kumar doubted the bonafides of the police he moved to straight to wenlock hospital and saw that the police had not reached the hospital. He informed the staff on duty, the doctor as well as the police man at the hospital that a seriously injured victim of an accident will reach the hospital and they should take care of him, and went away to other nearby hospitals to find out if Ibrahim has been taken into some other hospital. When he came back to the Wenlock hospital after sometime he could find out that the police had managed to prepare false documents  stating that Ibrahim was fully drunk and came under the wheel of the vehicle. By that time the relatives of Ibrahim had also reached the hospital and decided to shift into Unity Hospital has the hospital declined to admit him into the hospital stating that they do not have proper equipment to treat a case of serious head injury. Ashok states that the blood was oozing out from the ears of the victim, which implies that it is a mortal injury to the head.

Mr. Ashok had also visited the SP’s office in between and given a factual report to him about the accident who had swung into the action immediately and got the driver of the vehicle who was found to be   under intoxication and a such he was kept under suspension immediately and Mr. Guruprasad inspector of Reserve Police to enquire into the entire incident and submit a report. Further action would be decided on the receipt of the report.

On further investigation we have found that Ibrahim runs a tempo for a livelihood and he had taken his tempo to a garage nearby for repairs, before the accident took place. Ibrahim is nondrinker therefor it can be conveniently presumed that the police who were numbering about 8 or 9 had forced Ibrahim to have a drink on the way where Ibrahim was lying down in the van. This also explains the delay in reaching the wenlock hospital from the accident spot.

The DAR police on duty have not only committed a serious crime of knocking down by rash and negligent driving but they have tried to destroy the evidence and twist the case with a malafied intension to cover up their offences.

Besides they were all found to be under intoxication while on duty. The entire group of police men who were in the van should be charged with a offences of criminal conspiracy and abetment in the crime. Ends of justice and fair play will be met only if action is taken against all the police men present in the van.

Therefore we demand exemplary action against the police involved under IPC just like any other offenders, besides payment of Rs.5 lakh to the family of Mr. Ibrahim for treatment and other immediate expenses.

This incident has to be taken very seriously as the same is committed by a so called force which is supposed to be a disciplined force entrusted with  the duty of maintaining law and order in the state.