Mangalore, March 8: Justice B K Somashekara Commission of Inquiry, which was commissioned to lead a probe into the attacks on Christian prayer halls, held a sitting at Circuit House Nanthoor on March 8, Monday and cross-examined several people who had filed appeals.
Sr. Celine Pethra of Sacred Hearts School, Kulshekar, said that she could not identify those who had gathered near the Church Gates at Kulshekar on Sept 14, 2008 because she wasn’t present on the spot, but was watching from the school premises, which also house the Santa Cruz Convent. She claimed that it is false to say that the people inside the church were pelting stones. The members of the Bajrang Dal were outside the gate and started pelting stones, she alleged.
The nun claimed that she came to know that they were members of the Bajrang Dal because they shouted the slogan “Bajrang Dal ki jai” before leaving. She said that she knew about the protest held later only after reading the newspaper. She said that any trouble created by them at that moment would just have resulted in violence against them.
However, Sister Shanti, a teacher of Sacred Hearts School, said that her earlier appeal against the police and her statements that they had forced themselves inside the gate was false. She also denied that a protest meeting was called inside the Holy Cross Church on September 15, 2008. She confirmed the arrangement of a prayer meeting, but not a protest meeting, inside the church. The nun denied that the Christian gathering had blocked NH 13 after the prayer meeting or hurled stones, bricks, or soda bottles from the Church premises. The nun also said that they did not compel passengers to walk miles altogether. She also denied that she had protested as a nun. She claimed that it is false to say that members of Hindu organization did not enter the Church that day.
Sr. Selma, a retired nun from Kinnigoli who stays at Santa Cruz Convent, said that she noticed a crowd in front of the church, after which she duly informed the police. She also said that the nuns had prior police permission to lead a protest on Sept 15. She said that she did not know the identity of the group standing in front of the church.
Mr. Francis of Kulshekar alleged that he was beaten up and that he had to take treatment at the hospital.
The nuns who gave witness informed the Justice that Rev Fr Lawrence D’Souza was the parish priest of Kulshekar Church earlier and that Rev Fr Valerian Pinto had taken over on April 2008.