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BJP, opposition spar over Karnataka church attack report

Bangalore, Feb 3 (Calcutta Tube) The opposition Congress and Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) Wednesday demanded Karnataka Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa’s resignation after a probe panel hinted at the involvement of pro-Hindu outfits in attacks on several churches in the state in 2008.

The panel, headed by B.K. Somasekhara, a former judge of the Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh high courts, has also suggested that top police officers and district administration at several places ‘colluded’ with the attackers.

‘A strong impression is created that members belonging to Bajrang Dal, Sri Rama Sene, VHP (Vishwa Hindu Parishad) etc are mainly responsible in attacking the churches or places of worship mainly in Mangalore,’ Somasekhara said in his interim report submitted to the government Monday.

Yeddyurappa has promised action only after getting the final report of the panel.

However, demanding immediate action against Bajrang Dal, Rama Sene and VHP, Congress leaders Wednesday staged a demonstration in central Bangalore and met governor H.R. Bhardwaj seeking Yeddyurappa’s dismissal.

The delegation was led by state Congress president R.V. Deshpande.

JD-S legislature party leader H.D. Revanna, son of former prime minister and JD-S president H.D. Deve Gowda, also sought Yeddyurappa’s resignation.

‘It is only an interim report and talks of an impression the commission has gathered from witnesses. It is not the view of the commission,’ asserted Home Minister V.S. Acharya.

The Somasekhara commission of inquiry was appointed on Sep 19, 2008 to find out who were behind the attacks on over a dozen churches that began in Mangalore on Sep 14 and spread to eight other places, including Bangalore.

The interim report also said that in some cases, the attacks were ‘self-inflicted’.

‘In some incidents, there were indications of self-infliction or collusion or make-believe method to create evidence of attack on churches or places of worship to support such things in other districts or places,’ the report said.

It also noted ‘there are indications of massive conversions to Christianity by circumstances and inducements but not by compulsion. Such conversions were only of faith and not of religion in the legal or technical sense’.

The interim report has also recommended the banning all communal organisations.

‘All communal organisations in whatever name or form preaching or practicing any activity against any religion in any form should be banned as per existing law or to be legislated, with the serious consequences of forfeiting assets,’ it said.

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