Report of the Fact- Finding Team on Mangalore Violence

published on November 27, 2008






THE CITIZENS FOR HARMONY




















The
Citizens for Harmony, a Bangalore-based voluntary organisation, sent a
team to Mangalore and Udupi on 29th September to ascertain the facts
about the recent Hindu-Christian clashes in coastal Karnataka.

 
The team consisted of Mr. Y R Patil (IPS Retd) and
Director of Academy of Career Counseling and Coaching, Bangalore), Mrs.
Vijayalakshmi, (Social worker and Creative Director, Varnila Designs,
Bangalore) and P N Benjamin (founder and coordinator, Bangalore
Initiative for Religious Dialogue-BIRD).
 

The members of the team assert that their findings are based on hard facts (See the annexures) that
were brought before them as well as from their visits to the sites of
unrest and interactions with and close questioning of the aggrieved
parties.

The team visited Mangalore and Udupi on
September 30 and October 1st respectively and received several
complaints and representations from Hindu and Christian organizations
and from individuals who did not represent any institutions. Many
affected persons deposed before the team and submitted memorandums with
documentary evidences at the open hearing held at Circuit House,
Mangalore and Travelers Bungalow at Udupi. The team also visited some
of the trouble spots and sought to know from the local communities,
their responses to the incidents of
violence.
 
The representations and documents received by the
team are annexed to this report separately with index. The team has
also received videos/photographs which are a part of the evidences and
are also annexed to this report.
 
The places of worship which were attacked in DK
included the Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration Monastery (Mangalore),
Christ Church at Kodikal near Mangalore, Believers Church of India at
Puttur, Mahima Prathanalaya and Indian Pentecostal both at Madanthyar
and Bethesda Aradanalaya at Sullia. In Chikumagalur, miscreants
attacked Yavana Swami church at Magodu village, and Time and Paul
Gospel Harvest
prayer hall at Koppa. In  Udupi district, New Life
prayer hall located behind KSRTC bus stand was attacked apart from two
other prayer halls at Shiroor and Kollur.
 
 



CAUSES FOR VIOLENCE:




Based of the depositions placed before the team by the aggrieved
parties and citizens the following seem to be the causes for the said violence:
 
1.   The murder of Swami Lakshmanananda Saraswati
in Kandmal district of Orissa, led to violent clashes between Hindus
and Christians which slowly spread to other parts of Orissa also.
 
2.   Leaders of the Christian community in Karnataka called for a
state-wide
closure of their educational institutions and peace marches on 14th
September to express their solidarity with the victims of the attacks
against Christians in Orissa.
 
The above actions by the Christian Community were
seen as a negative action by Hindu organizations and others. It created
a divide in society fanning hatred and unrest.
 


3.
   The
denigration of Hinduism, Hindu practices, Hindu Gods and Goddesses by
Christian evangelists has caused extreme pain to Hindu Society.




 


4.   Insecurity
of Hindu Society caused by intense and active evangelists is also cited
as a cause for the simmering anger. There are claims of coerced
conversion by evangelists through monetary allurement as also by
showing Hindu Religion in a negative light.





 

5.   Prayer Halls and other Christian
worshipping places throughout DK used for weaning Hindus away from the
Hindu way of life too have been viewed as a cause.





 



According to a
large number of people and organizations that deposed before the team,
intense evangelical activity and denigration of Hindu icons and
practices,  the killing of the Swami in Kandhamal and the Christian
leaders’ call for protest closure of schools led to the sudden eruption
of violence in Dakshina Karnataka, especially in Mangalore and Udupi, 
on 14th and 15th September.







 




 



Detailed Causes as deposed by the aggrieved parties are:








 



DENIGRATION OF HINDU GODS & GODDESSES:






 
Many Christian groups have been indulging in
aggressive evangelization and conversion activities in recent years in
Mangalore and surrounding districts. They denigrate Hindu gods and their rituals in their attempt to get new adherents to their faith from Hindu community.One such example, are the contents of a booklet called Satyadarshini printed and circulated by Newlife denigrates Hindus gods as follows:

-   Urvashi
– the daughter of Narayana – is a prostitute.  Vashitha is the son of
this prostitute.  He in turn married his own Mother.  Such a degraded
person is the Guru of the Hindu God Rama. (page 48)
 
-   When Krishna himself is wallowing in darkness
of hell, how can he enlighten others?  Since Krishna himself is a shady
character, there is a need for us to  liberate his misled followers.
(page 50)
 
-   It was Brahma himself who kidnapped Sita. 
Since Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva were themselves the victims of lust, it
is a sin to consider them as Gods. (page 39)
 
-   When the Trinity of Hinduism (Brahma, Vishnu
and Shiva) are consumed by lust and anger, how can they liberate
others.  Their projection as Gods is nothing but a joke. (page 39).
 
-   When Vishnu asked Brahma to commit a sin, he
immediately did so. How can such an “evil brahma” be a Creator of this
Universe?  How is it possible for both the sinner and the entity which
provoked the sin to be gods?  (page 39)
 
-   God, please liberate the sinful people of India
who are worshipping False Gods  that believe in the pleasures of 
illicit ‘Vyabichari’ relationships. (Page 39).
 



CONVERSION BY COERCION, INDUCEMENTS






 

(Based on depositions given by aggrieved parties)




 


The Christian
evangelists and missionaries have been targeting the poor and
illiterate extensively as also the youth. Scheduled castes and
scheduled tribes like Kudubis, Vishwakarmas and Lingayats are some who
have fallen prey. Their modus operandi is to visit poor Hindu houses
without their permission and distribute Christian tracts and
literature. They seek those who are mentally and financially weak and
induce them to give up their Hindu way of life and join the Christian
religion with promises of moral and financial support on conversion to
Christianity.






 

There is a drastic increase in recent times
in aggressive faith marketing strategies followed by the Christian
groups in this region, which has caused this anger against Christians.





 



ENCROACHMENT OF PRIVATE AND PUBLIC PROPERTY:






 

(Based on actual visit and enquiry)




 

There have been instances of Christian
groups encroaching upon public and private properties in Mangalore. Two
specific cases in point are:





 


The Nagavana, at Shanthinagar, is a place of worship for the Kudubi tribes for centuries, The
property has been encroached upon by the International Jesus Christ
Church in India. A large church complex and living quarters have been
built on this land by desecrating the sanctity of the Nagavana and also
preventing the Kudubis from their worship at their sanctified shrine.
It has led to much emotional trauma to the tribals of incomplete
rituals. There has been a continuing protest by the Kudubi community
but of no avail.






 

The same Church also causes much
disturbance to the entire neighborhood with its week-end events that
include loud music and dancing through the night shattering the peace
and tranquility of the entire area. The leaders of the Kudubis have
expressed their anger and disgust, displeasure and resentment, against
the presence of this Christian group several times in the past to the
civic authorities and have also legally proceeded against them in the
civil court.





 

The founder of this church is Pastor Mani David Joseph and the present pastor is Immanuel Santosh Kumar.





Pachinady Kurchugudde





This
is a hillock belonging to the government. A couple of years back, the
Catholic Church authorities encroached on it and erected several
crosses all around its boundaries. They also built a statue of the
Crucified Jesus Christ and a house-like structure. The Mangalore Bishop
inaugurated it on January 20, 2007.






 
The Mangalore Municipal Corporation has illegally
allotted a number to the structure thus giving it a semblance of legal
sanction, thus creating an impression among the local people that the
land and the structures are owned by the Catholic diocese.

The local residents who met the team at the site asserted that this
particular
property belongs to the government. They wanted to know how the
Municipality had allowed the Christians to erect the structures, a
statue of Crucified Jesus Christ and several concrete crosses on the
said government land.

 
Some activists of Hindu organizations have, in the aftermath of
Mangalore incidents, hoisted several flags on this land in protest
against the illegal occupation of the hillock by the Catholic Church.
 
Incidents such as these have led to growing anger, heartburn and
tension amongst Hindus against Christians.
 

Sensing the simmering communal tension in
the area the administration has invoked Section 145 of CRPC and taken
over the illegally occupied land. Police have set up a small outpost
and a squad is also stationed there to guard the place.





 



CONVERSION ATTEMPTS & POLICE APATHY:




(Based on depositions and enquiries)




 
Despite lodging cases with the police regarding
conversion attempts by Christian groups, the police authorities have
not taken action by registering cases against the accused in the past.
This is evident from the records of the police.
 
One Smt. Rati and Anantapadmanabha had lodged a
compliant on 17-12-2005 itself. The same has been registered as C.MIS.
No. 306 of 2005 and 307 of 2005 within the jurisdiction of
Kundapur Police. However, no investigation has been conducted and no further action has been taken.

Mr.
M. Santhosh S/o Bachha Poojary had lodged a complaint in Crime Number
267 of 2006 under Section 153A, 448 (Read with Sec. 34 of IPC).

 
In this regard, the police have filed a charge sheet and it is under
trial in the criminal court. This evidence clearly establishes the
fact that everything is not normal in the coastal district of
Mangalore
and Udupi with regard to illegal conversions. However, there was no
answer from the police with regard to the complaint lodged by Ratheeh
and Padmanabha despite adequate evidences.
 



RESPONSE TO THE ABOVE CAUSES






 
The immediate response was to attack prayer halls, churches and
fellowship
houses belonging to evangelical Christian groups like New Life,
Pentecostal, Believers’ Church, Assemblies of God etc. They are known as para churches and are independent of the mainline churches, like the Catholic and Church of South India, Mar Thoma Syrian Church etc.
 
On 14th September some miscreants damaged and
desecrated the idol of Jesus Christ at the Perpetual Adoration Chapel
of the Monastery of the Poor Clares in the premises of Milagres
Catholic church in Mangalore.
 

The VHP and Bajrang Dal have condemned the
desecration of Jesus Christ’s idol in the chapel. They have also
clarified that they are not against the Catholic Church.





 

To the pointed questions to those who
deposed before the fact-finding team as to why the miscreants turned
their ire against the Catholic Church the answer was simple and
straightforward:





How can we – the Hindus – distinguish between Catholic Christians and
evangelicals? All denominations of Christianity are one and the same in
the eyes of Hindus and we need not know the differences within the
Christian community.”






 



INCIDENTS AT HOLY CROSS CHURCH :





A CASE STUDY





 

(based on depositions, video, enquiry and visit)




 
On 14th and 15th, church bells continuously tolled
in all the Catholic Churches of Mangalore signaling to the faithful
that the churches were in imminent threat of destruction. Consequently
at the Holy Cross Church compound in Kulashekar, about 800 Parishioners
gathered within few minutes. In addition, many people who had attended
the first Mass were holed up inside the Church All the gates to the
church premises and school building adjacent to the church were locked
from within. The school was closed inspite of a government directive not to close schools.




 

Some miscreants from among the crowd inside the Church compound snatched away the wireless set from ASI.
They were asked to return it and the priest was unable to convince the
youngsters to do so saying that he was recently transferred to the
church and did not know anyone of them personally and therefore
helpless.
 
The police surrounded the compound from outside
because all the gates were locked. Police Inspector Ganapathy
repeatedly asked the miscreants on the megaphone to voluntarily come
out and surrender the police wireless set. He also requested the crowd
to disperse as it was against the curfew orders that had been clamped
to congregate inpublic.
 
The negotiations went on for almost 5 hours until
the SP Mangalore Sri Satheesh Kumar arrived on the scene. The situation
was getting out of control. Sensing the seriousness of the situation,
he entered the compound wearing a helmet supplied by a constable and
broke open the gates with the help of about 50 constables.
 

As they moved in, they were attacked with
stones and bricks from the top of the school. The action photos of
youngsters – face covered with duppatas/clothes given to them by
girls/women — throwing stones and roof tiles from the third and fourth
floors of the school in the Church compound, are seen in the unedited
videos in the possession of the fact-finding team. This was

handed over to them by an amateur free-lance videographer.




 
When the miscreants started attacking the police,
the SP had no other option but to order lathi-charge and ultimately
burst teargas shells. In the melee, several policemen were injured and
a lady constable suffered serious head injuries. A Tata Sumo belonging
to the police (Dy.SP) was also destroyed by the miscreants.
 



CHURCH USING CLEVERLY EDITED TAPES TO SPREAD HATRED






 



It has come to the
notice of the fact-finding team that the Church authorities have been
circulating doctored video clips on the happenings in the church.

 
Fr. Frances Vincent of Holy Cross Church showed us the tampered video
to prove that the police action against the Church members, said to be
numbering about 800, was brutal, inhuman and heartless. He also
emphatically claimed that the police ‘brutality’ was without
provocation on 15th September and in violation of all canons of human
rights – Indian Constitution and the UN Declarations on Human Rights.





 



The video clips in
the possession of the Church were supplied by the same source that gave
the fact finding team the unedited version of the video pictures. It is
shocking that the video tapes in the possession of the fact finding
team show pictures of mounds of stones, sticks and bottles stored
inside the Holy Cross church.





There is no
explanation by the Church as to why those materials were stored inside the Church.







 

Circulation of such doctored tapes by the
Church authorities have been further stoking the flames of ill-will
against the police and the Hindus at large.





 



PRAYER HALLS IN SHOPPING COMPLEXES:






 

The team has received a representation from
the businessmen of Krishna Krupa shopping complex wherein they have
complained that New Life fellowship has taken on rental premises for
the purpose of prayer even though they are not entitled for the same.
They have further complained that the Blessings Prayer Hall under the
Assemblies of God Church (AG) is using the premises for prayer meeting
and singing with musical instruments and high decibel microphones
thereby causing nuisance to the inmates and the business community.





 
Immediately after the violent incident on 14th
Sept.2008, the police have increased their deployment thereby causing
hindrance to the business activities. Further they have requested the
authorities to vacate the Prayer Hall from the above said shopping
complex.
 



POLICE ACTION:






 
-   72 cases of arson were registered in Mangalore and two in Udupi.
 
-   67 policemen suffered injuries when Christians attacked the police.
 
-   26 Christians and 17 Hindus were injured in police lathi charge.
 



The police too did
cross the limits of mild-lathi-charge. However, it is fair to suggest
that the police were also at their wit’s end having seen some of their
injured members and did not want to take any chance, especially when
they did not have any wherewithal to judge the armed nature of the
miscreants.







 



A warning to the government:

The team was shocked to hear Fr. Vincent’s angry and ominous comment at the Holy Cross Church:
If the Hindus have a right to protest against attacks on their temples,
we, as Christians too have the same rights. And when cornered, we too
will attack them hereafter and our bells will toll and call for support
from the Christian community”.
It is a warning the government should not ignore
 
 



FINDINGS






 
All the incidents of violence that came to the
notice of the team were directed against what is known as
para-churches, house churches, Christian fellowships and associations
belonging to New Life, Pentecostal, Believers Church, Assemblies of
Gods etc. All of them are independent of the mainstream Christian
churches in Ind

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