A citizens delegation led by noted film director, Mahesh Bhat and Dr. Abraham Mathai, Vice-Chairman, Maharashtra Minorities Commission and general secretary, All India Christian Council rounded off a fact-finding mission today. Prominent among the others included was Joseph Dias, General Secretary of the Catholic Secular Forum (CSF), the Mumbai-based national community NGO and representatives of secular society. The objective of the mission was to get a first-hand report of the violence against Christians, which saw 18 churches and worship centres attacked and almost a hundred citizens injured – including nuns, priests, pastors and church-workers.
All India Christian Council’s Secretary General Dr. John Dayal in a Times of Now TV panel discussion tonight declared that Christians are willing to lay down lives to keep India integrated.
Dr. Mathai felt that the pattern of the religious violence, followed was similar to that in Orissa and had action been taken to rein in the saffron brigade, the VHP, RSS and Bajrang Dal, would not have been emboldened to spread their communal venom to other states. He noted that as of today, not a single state was free of the virus, with communal violence reports being received from MP, Kerala, Orissa, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh.
Mahesh Bhat urged the government to “deal with mob terror with the same vigour as we deal with bomb terror. If the BJP run state looks away from the blunt truth that the Bajrang Dal is no different from the other terror group, which they seek to be banned, then you will only perpetuate the problem you are hoping to solve. The highest justice comes, when you can see without preference. In the name of nationalism they can’t be blinded to the dastardly deeds of their own people”. He said that if the same seriousness was not paid to mob terror by the likes of the saffron brigade, then it would lead to bomb terror.
Mahesh Bhat and Dr. Mathai spoke to LK Advani on telephone from ground zero to brief him of the situation in Karnataka, after a meeting with Bishops Aloysius D’souza and Dr. D Bangera, besides Christian leaders of the many affected denominations. Hundreds of Christian victims came out on the streets defying the bandh call given by a fringe fundamentalist group and met the delegation. The Karnataka home minister, Dr. VS Acharya and senior government officials, like the district collector, M Maheshwar, also briefed the delegation of the action taken. They assured the delegation that action would be taken fairly against all accused and the culprits would be brought to book. The minister also said that the minority community would not be hounded or singled out for punishment.
Dr. Mathai took strong objection to the chief minister’s statement on his visit to Mangalore yesterday, where he said that forceful conversion was the cause of such violence – a language, commonly used by Hindus fundamentalists and not befitting the stature of a CM and that too at a time of crises like this. He reiterated his demand for the ban of the VHP & Bajrang Dal as they have proved beyond any doubt that they are terror outfits no different than the SIMI.
Joseph Dias, said that the attacks were premeditated and carried out with military-like precision. It was either that the attackers had the tacit approval of the BJP government or that the government, whose home minister could not prevent violence in his own district, had failed miserably in pre-empting and containing the violence. The failure of the intelligence also was apparent and despite attempts by the BJP to divide the community on sectarian lines, the Catholics and other Christian denominations remained united. There is a strong possibility of a re-occurrence, if the communalism is not nipped in the bud.
Mahesh Bhatt & Dr. Abraham Mathai would lead a high level team of Christian clergy and laity from the various affected states to sensitize the national BJP leadership of the atrocities and violation of constitutional and human rights being committed in BJP ruled states.