Mangalore, Sept 14, 2011: It’s been three years since the worst happened in peace loving Dakshina Kannada.The land known for religious tolerance and harmony was shocked and shattered by a spate of attacks on churches and Christian prayer halls in various parts of the district including Mangalore, on September 14, 2008, leaving the populace dumbstruck.
No doubt much water has flown into the Netravathi since then. The dastardly acts master minded by some fanatic and unscrupulous fundamentalist forces to counter a so called blasphemous booklet called ‘Satyadarshini’ is unpardonable. So called conversions were also blamed for the attacks with the perpetrators of the attack even coming out in the open and defending the attacks.But the wounds it had inflicted on the minds and hearts of the peace loving Christians have not yet been healed. The Christian populace has not yet recovered from the shock it suffered. and the manner in which the attacks hurt their religious sentiments. Today, not only the Christian community but all discerning citizens are questioning ‘Have the perpetrators of these worst ever attacks been brought to justice?”
The answer is a sadly ‘No.’ Three years down the line and still nothing concrete is emerging. Over 300 Christian youths have been booked for resorting to violence in the aftermath of the attacks, while they were only protesting against an act that has been condemned by everyone irrespective of party lines. So far there have been only assurances to withdraw the cases against them, but no action, giving room for suspicion that the government was in fact least interested in doing so.
The first ever BJP government in the south still seems to be disinterested in delivering justice to the Christian community which has out rightly rejected the Justice Somasekara Commission report submitted to the government in January this year. A huge protest led by Mangalore Bishop that was staged in Mangalore and elsewhere in the state had even demanded that a CBI probe alone can do justice to the Christian populace in the church attacks case. But, so far the demand has only been a cry in the wilderness. The infamous pub attacks and then the church attacks had created a permanent blot on the image of the BJP government which was widely suspected to be pursuing the RSS agenda aimed at converting Dakshina Kannada into its Hindutva laboratory.
The church attacks had indeed reaffirmed the doubts and it was only after mounting pressure that the government constituted the one-man Justice Somasekara Commission to probe into the case. Though the interim report of the Commission submitted in February 2010 came in as a breather when it said -"Strong impression is created that the members belonging to Bhajarang Dal, Sri Rama Sene, and the VHP etc. are mainly responsible for attacking churches or places of worship, mainly in Mangalore and South Canara (Dakshina Kannada) districts spreading to other districts and other parts of the state," the final report submitted in January, 2011 came in as a total disappointer when it said “There is no basis to the apprehension of Christian petitioners that the politicians, the BJP, mainstream Sangha Parivar and the state government directly or indirectly, are involved in the attacks.’ was a total disappointment. The final report, in fact had given a clean chit to the government.
The Christian populace which was expecting the Commission to deliver justice was in for total disappointment and though the Commission has said it has not acted at the behest of the government and has only done its duty, there were only a few takers. Though it was after much pressure that the government constituted the one man Justice Somasekara Commission of Enquiry into the church attacks, the result was however all the more disappointing, The Commission has however suspected the role of the Bhajrangdal in at least nine cases of church attacks, in its final report.
Since then, several representations have been made to the state government seeking justice and seeking withdrawal of cases against Christian youth booked in connection with violence in the aftermath of the attacks.
Mangalore Bishop Rev Dr Aloysius D’Souza had even called on the Chief Minister DV Sadananda Gowda and made a fervent plea for withdrawal of the cases foisted against innocent Christian youth in the Church attack cases.`This will be a big relief and come as the best goodwill gesture from the chief minister, “ the Bishop had said while presenting a memorandum listing the demands from the Catholics and Christians of the coastal region. ‘I promise to attend to the demand in the next 15 days or so.’ the CM had said, but it is sure that the Chief minister is too preoccupied to attend to this issue.
In fact many Catholics including entrepreneur Ronald Colaco and various organizations and even Bishops had tried to prevail upon the government to secure justice, but of no avail.
Earlier in July 2011, Bishop of Mangalore Aloysius Paul D’Souza had met Mangalore Police Commissioner and had expressed displeasure against the State Government for the delay in withdrawing the cases registered in connection with the church .The Bishop had said that former chief minister B.S. Yeddyurappa and former home minister R. Ashok had promised action. But nothing has changed much.
As justice is still eluding the Christian community which still has a feeling of insecurity, the society in general wants the government to act fast and try to fulfill the promises made to the Christians. Will justice prevail?