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Judge says authorities backed radicals

Karnataka violence pre-planned and supported by the state administration, says report

Judge says authorities backed radicals
(L - R): Joseph Dias, Justice Michael Saldanha, Cardinal Oswald Gracias, Abraham Mathai and Maulana Mustaquim Azmi, Mumbai

February 23, 2011

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A former high court judge, who probed the 2008 anti-Christian attacks on churches in Karnataka, says Hindu radical groups planned them and the state’s pro-Hindu government sponsored them. “Over 1,500 attacks on various churches in Karnataka were pre-planned and supported by the ruling party in the state,” Michael Saldanha, a Catholic, said yesterday in Mumbai after releasing the Peoples Tribunal Enquiry report. The retired judge of the Karnataka high court gave a copy to Cardinal Oswald Gracias, who heads the Catholic Church in India. Saldanha dismissed as  a “whitewash” the report of a commission that probed the attacks for the government. The commission, headed by another retired high court judge, B. K. Somashekhara, exonerated Hindu groups and the government. Saldanha said his investigation has revealed that the police and state administration had supported Hindu militant groups in attacking Christians. “Legal action should be initiated against all responsible for the attacks, including police and government officers,” Saldana demanded. He alleged that the government had supported and covered a “hate campaign” against the Christians in the state and accused Karnataka Chief Minister B. S. Yeddyyurappa and Home Minister B. V. Acharya for the attacks. Saldanha also demanded immediate withdrawal of cases against Christians from various courts, compensation for the damages and steps to restore confidence among Christians. Cardinal Gracias asked the Karnataka government to act on the Saldana report. The prelate said various Christian denominations have demanded that the Central Bureau of Investigation should probe the incidents. Joseph Dias, general secretary of Mumbai-based Catholic Secular Forum, said he wants Yeddyyurappa and Acharya prosecuted on the basis of the Saldanha report. Abraham Mathai, vice-chairman of the Maharashtra state minorities commission, urged the federal and Karnataka governments to reject the Somashekhara report. ID13400.1642

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