01/28/2011, 00.00
INDIA
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Karnataka government absolves itself over anti-Christian violence

by Nirmala Carvalho
Ostensibly, the authorities were not involved in 2008 attacks against churches. The Global Council of Indian Christians slams what it calls a biased report, complaining about the double standards applied to Christians and Hindus involved in the unrest.
New Delhi (AsiaNews) – The commission of inquiry presided by Justice BK Somashekara released its report today. It found that neither the government nor police could be held responsible for a series of attacks against churches in 2008. Sajan George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), has rejected the report’s findings, calling them biased, and an attempt to whitewash the government’s name. Many in fact blame state authorities for the 2008 unrest.

In September of that year, some 113 violent incidents were recorded in 29 districts of Karnataka. In Bangalore, vandals attacked the Holy Name of Jesus Church, threw stones at a statue of Our Lady, badly damaging it. Also in Bangalore, thugs looted St James Church, desecrating the Eucharist and smashing up furniture and benches.

The commission appointed by the state government began its inquiry in October 2008. It held hearings in Mangalore, Bangalore, Davangere and Udupi, accepting about 1,500 petitions and 34 lawyers who pleaded for various groups.

“Karnataka Christians have been regularly attacked with near impunity since May 2008, when the national-conservative BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) came to power,” Sajan George said. “This has been a matter of serious concern to us.”

In the last two years, the GCIC has recorded another 133 anti-Christian attacks in the state, 72 in 2009 alone.

At least 200 Christians, mostly young men and women, have been charged with making false accusations in connection with the 2008 unrest.

By contrast, Hindu extremists have enjoyed impunity. In some cases, charges against them have been dismissed.

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