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Report blames Bajrang Dal, cops for Mangalore attacks

Vicky Nanjappa | October 22, 2008 19:07 IST

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A fact-finding committee, comprising of human rights activists formed to look into the recent violence in Mangalore, has stated that the attacks were carried out by the Bajrang Dal and the Sri Rama Sene (a local Hindu group). The team said the 'planned attacks' were aimed at causing hurt and resentment among Christians. It was also used as a pretext by the police to let lose a savage assault on the community and its sacred institutions, the report said.

A committee comprising 17 activists from Orissa, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Puducherry, Karnataka and Maharashtra visited Mangalore on October 10 and 11 to investigate the attacks.

The report states that on September 14, Bajrang Dal activists attacked the Adoration Centre at Milagres Church in the heart of the city and the CSI Church at Kodical without provocation. The two attacks took place almost simultaneously at about 10.15 am. At Kodical there was nobody in the church. About 30 to 35 persons, who had masks covering their faces, came on motorbikes and ransacked the church with iron pipes, cricket stumps and sticks. They shouted pro Bajrang Dal slogans. By the time members of the church rushed there, the assailants had fled. The report also says the police arrived without any intimation from the victims within five minutes. They cleaned the debris and took it away without performing any inquest.

The team also visited Adoration Centre, Milagres, St Sebastian Church, Peramannur, the CSI Church, Kodical, Holy Cross Church, Kulsekhar and St Joseph, The Worker Church, Vamanjoor. The team also spoke to the IG of Police, Western Range. At each place the team spoke to a number of witnesses and victims.

At Milagres, about 15 persons on motorbikes shouting pro-Bajrang Dal slogan entered the Adoration Centre and attacked it with lathis desecrating even a plaster of Paris figure of Christ on the cross. A couple who had come to pray were beaten, the report said.

The police who came after a complaint was lodged were more interested in interrogating the nuns than in investigating the assaults. A policemen warned members not to allow the media to take photographs or video.

When the Christian community undertook protests in the form of road blockades and dharnas at various places including Mangalore city, the police suddenly became active and imposed prohibitory orders. At Milagres the police chased and fired tear-gas shells at the protesting Christians. When the latter ran into the compound of the Adoration Centre and threw stones at the police, the police threw back the stones and also glass bottles and caused further damage to the Centre, the report stated.

The team concluded that the events and responses clearly indicate complete license given to the Bajrang Dal by the police. The police conducted themselves as activists of the Bajrang Dal and not as officers of the law, under the benign gaze of the friendly state government, the report states.

Insofar as the allegation of forced conversions goes, the IG himself says that there are no complaints. With reference to the abusive booklet which the Bajrang Dal has made much of, the police are still investigating who published it. In any case no such aberration can be made an excuse for attacks on places of worship, the report states.

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