Former HC judge Saldanha speaks out against K'taka attacks

Published 10 November 2011  |  
Perturbed by the recent spate of attacks against churches and Christian educational institutions, the Karnataka Missions Network and the All India Christian Council (aicc) have demanded the BJP-led government to take action against the culprits and let rule of law prevail in the state.

At a press conference in Mangalore on Monday, state president of aicc's Karnataka chapter, Justice Michael Saldanha said attacks against Christians in Karnataka were continuing with impunity, while those in states such as Gujarat and Orissa had considerably subsided.

Urging the government to curtail incidents of hate, Saldanha said constitutional rights must be enforced and measures must be taken to prevent violence against the minority community.

The former judge of the Karnataka High Court, Saldanha, termed the attacks on institutions and churches as "acts of terror". Criticising the Sangh Parivar and its political allies for attempting to communize the state, Saldanha said presidents of France and US and the British prime minister had expressed dismay over the attacks.

"Even today, three years after the church attacks in the state, the victims are being further victimised by the government while the attackers have been roaming scot-free," he told reporters.

Law must have zero tolerance towards such "internal acts of terrorism," he said. The worst cases of atrocities, according to him, were happening in the coastal districts of Karnataka.

Referring to the 2008 attacks, Saldanha said 267 cases filed against persons from religious majority groups were withdrawn because they were found to be politically motivated. However, the government is yet to do so with regard to 367 cases filed against Christian youths, he pointed.

Walter J Maben of the Karnataka Missions Network (KMN), an association of 27 Pentecostal churches in the state, echoed the same concern.

The state government had only given promises but had not withdrawn the "false" cases against members of the Christian community, he said.

Maben told reporters that after the 2008 church attacks, around 1,000 cases had been filed against Christian priests and pastors across the state.

He said the police were disrupting worship and banning house churches with no substantial reason. Maben told reporters that many such instances were likely to have gone unreported.

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