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Bishops protest over report 'whitewash'

Probe into anti-Christian violence nothing more than politically motivated propaganda, critics say

Bishops protest over report 'whitewash'
Catholic and protestant Bishops at a sit-in in Bangalore
Philip Mathew, Bangalore

February 18, 2011

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Eighteen Catholic and Protestant bishops in the southern Indian state of Karnataka today staged a sit-in to protest about an enquiry commission report on church attacks. They criticized the Justice B. K. Somashekhara Commission for not identifying people who attacked the churches in 2008. The demonstration was organized in Bangalore, the state capital, by the Karnataka United Christian Forum for Human Rights and the Karnataka Region Catholic Bishops' Council. The commission had presented its final report on January 28, after nearly three years of investigation, to the state government led by the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP, India people’s party). The report is not judicial findings but politically motivated statements, alleged Archbishop Bernard Moras of Bangalore, who heads the Catholic Church in the state. The report is "completely one-sided, biased, propagandist and even communal," he said, adding that it has been "totally unfair to all Christians." "The Christians who were the target of attacks and the victims of the organized mayhem and vandalism have been converted into the perpetrators, while the real attackers and all forces and elements that had directly or indirectly supported have been given a clean chit," Archbishop Morass bemoaned. The commission investigated 57 cases of church attacks in 2008, soon after the BJP government came to power in the state. The bishops have demanded that the government should hand over the cases to the Central Bureau of Investigation, the top probe agency in the country. They also demanded withdrawal of over 150 cases lodged against Christians who were hurt and disturbed by the church attacks. Meanwhile, the Global Council of Indian Christians organized a similar protest in another part of the city which some 3,000 Christians of all denominations attended. IB13348.1641

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