Bangalore: The Justice B.K. Somasekhara Commission of Inquiry, in its final report on the attacks on churches and prayer halls in several places in Karnataka in 2008, has absolved the Bharatiya Janata Party, the “mainstream” sangh parivar and the State government from having been “directly or indirectly” involved in the violence.
The highlights of the report, released to the press after submission of the full report to Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa on Thursday, do not specifically hold any individual or organisation responsible for the attacks, saying the “circumstances were diverse” and treated individually in the full report.
It, however, says “true Hindus” had no role to play in the attacks, holding “misguided fundamentalist miscreants” responsible. These groups “mistakenly presumed that they will be protected by the party in power.”
The report strongly reprimands the actions of specific district administrations and the police in specific cases. It says that in its larger observation allegations of top police officials and district administrations colluding with the attackers had “no merit.” The police “did their best” in nabbing miscreants and their action is justified, with some exceptions.
The extent of attacks varied from place to place, the report says, adding that some were even “self-inflicted.” On the other hand, other attacks were deliberate, well-planned and communally antagonistic.
The commission says there were “no conversions at all by Roman Catholic churches.”
It, however, says there were conversions by “a few organisations and self-styled pastors,” which were “not necessarily by compulsion or fraud or coercion but definitely by inducements.” This, the commission says, has damaged the reputation of “true Christians.” Allegations of some organisations indulging in inducements and maligning the Hindu religion appear “mostly probable and true.”
The commission recommends law to regulate the activities of such organisations within the scope of Article 25 of the Constitution. It says the demand for an audit of the activities of pastors is justified. While not directly recommending law against conversion, it says that the demand for bringing Christian places of worship under some legislation is “well-founded.”
It also says that “Organisations like the Bajrang Dal need identification, registration and legal control.”
The only individual named in the highlights of the report is the then Bajrang Dal head, Mahendra Kumar, for “publicly justifying attacks.”
The commission has made 21 recommendations, including the formation of a religion regulatory authority to oversee protection and monitoring of all religion-related activities; the formation of a wing in each district to deal with religious conflicts; prohibition of all material that abuses religious sentiments and formation of a “commission of religions.”