Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Justice Somashekara Commission Submits Interim Report

Mangalore, Feb 1: The Justice B K Somashekara Enquiry Commission set up to investigate the church attacks in the state, presented its interim report to the government on Monday February 1.

The Commission has made several suggestions and recommendations to the government to consider and implement.

The recommendations are:

Government should ensure protection to all religions and their institutions, particularly in the affected districts due to attacks and especially to minority religions and should be spelt out in clear terms without politicization.

As a first measure, the government should convince the affected Christian institutions and persons that it shares their miseries and sentiments suffered due to unpleasant incidents of attacks in all forms with sympathy, compassion, and concern by taking all the religions and political parties into confidence.

The district administration at all levels should be made liable for all violations in any form and extent of such protection.

A common modality should be framed and adopted for all the district administrations to deal with all situations of religious matters uniformly, impartially, effectively, and speedily.

The intelligence wing of the government, at least in all districts, must be geared up with trained personnel, infrastructure, headed by expertise and commitment to social and religious causes especially to deal with all situations of religious conflicts supervised and monitored at least by an officer of IGP cadre of the state.

The state should take all measures to ensure fundamental rights for freedom of conscience and free profession and propagation of religion within the meaning of Article 25 of the constitution of India in letter and spirit.

Religious harmony awareness programmes may be initiated at village and taluk levels to avoid unexpected religious conflicts with elders of all religions constituting the peace committees.

Legislations through special law within the competence of the state under lists of the constitution may be passed to ensure prevention of atrocities on any person in the name of religion in any form and protection of all persons claiming the privileges by virtue of a religion as per the law without reference to the conflicting legal consequences.

All communal organizations in whatever name or form preaching or practicing any activity against any religion in any form should be banned as per the law existing to be legislated with the serious consequences of forfeiting assets to the government free from all encumbrances.

All the materials in any form including literature, books, pamphlets, publications including the press and media in any form using abusive or insulting expressions either direct or with innuendos touching the religious interests should be banned if existing and censured if proposed to be published.

All criminal cases registered investigated or charge sheeted against all persons or institutions for the incidents of attacks etc, during the relevant period with cut out date ending 31 December, 2008 may be withdrawn or compounded as per law, however on any reasonable conditions including the plea of bargaining sentence and probationary measures depending upon the facts and circumstances of each case.

Compensation for all claims for damages to the property or injury to any person during the incidents and thereafter shall be inquired and paid within one month from the date of communication of the recommendation by the appropriate authorities like the deputy commissioner of the districts either pending or made within one month there from deducting any amount already paid as indicated in the report while dealing with petitions of each district.

There must be least or no policing regarding religious matters and to be handled with care and compassion by taking the religious leaders or heads into confidence and entry into any religious place by the police for any action should be totally with the permission or at least consultation with the religious persons in charge of the places.

The government should constitute a task force under the chairmanship of the commission with duly nominated members from the departments of the government to monitor and implement the recommendation of the commission.

All decisions taken by the government on the recommendations of the commission and implementation by the government may be published as far as possible. All other questions not covered by these recommendations will be provided in the next or final report.

Below are the extracts from the synopsis issued by the commission to the public.

In some incidents there were indications of self-infliction or collusion or make-believe methods to create evidence of attack on churches or places of worship to support such things in other districts or places.

There are indications of massive conversions to Christianity by circumstances and inducements but not by compulsion. Such conversions were only by faith and not of religion in legal or technical sense.

The attacks on the churches or places of worship has deeply affected the harmony between the members of Hindu and Christian religions and created suspicion in the minds of each other.

Strong impression is created that the members belonging to Bajarang Dal, Sri Rama Sene, and VHP etc. are mainly responsible for attacking churches or places of worship mainly in Mangalore and South Canara districts spreading to other districts and other parts of the state. Other so-called attacks were only make-believe.

Commission's move termed as breach of privilege

Home minister V S Acharya citing the Commission of Inquiries Act, said provisions in the said Act mandate a commission set up under the Act to submit its report to the state legislature. In this case, Acharya said, legislature means the Cabinet. "The report should have reached us in a sealed cover, deliberated in the Cabinet, which in turn would take a decision on making its contents public by placing it before the assembly," he said. (TOI)

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