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Christians march in 'black' protest

'Wounded community' demands full scale criminal probe into Hindu attacks

Crowd gathered for black protest Crowd gathered for black protest
  • Francis Rodrigues, Mangalore
  • India
  • February 21, 2011
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More than 100,000 Christians yesterday gathered in Mangalore to protest the report of a government commission that probed the attacks on churches by the pro-Hindu groups in Karnataka state.

The protesters represented some 45 Christian denominations and secular organizations. Mangalore Catholic diocese organized the protest.

‘This is a sea of Christianity that is wounded by the attacks on the churches by the fundamental groups,’ said Reverend Alwyn Culaso, a pastor of the Full Gospel Church.

“The government should look at the faith and patience of these people and give justice,” he added.

The protesters tied black cloths over their mouths and carried black flags as they walked one kilometer in the strongly Christian area.

George Castelino, a Catholic lay leader who guided the silent march, said the black color and silent march did not indicate “we are weak, voiceless and dead. It symbolized that the action of the government and its commission have silenced Christians.”

The protest rally was organized against a backdrop of an apparent whitewash by the B.K. Somshekhara Commission concerning Hindu radicals and government agencies.

The commission submitted its final report on Jan 28.

Brother Walter Maben, a pastor of the Brethren Church and president of the Karnataka Missions Network, alleged that the commission deliberately chose not to name the attackers although it was “fully aware” of their identities.

Bishop Aloysius Paul D’Souza of Mangalore said Karnataka was the scene of more than 100 incidents of attacks on Christians in 2008 but the commission listed only 57.

The protesters submitted a memorandum to the local government representative explaining the reasons for Christians rejecting the commission's report.

They also demanded that the cases be handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation, the premier investigating agency in the country.

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IA13355.1642

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