How secular and safe is Indian society ?

The RSS Growing Strong

The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) evinced concern at the fluctuation in its work and sought more quality in its endeavours. In the Sangh’s annual report tabled at its Akhil Bharatiya Pratinidhi Sabha which was inaugurated by Sarsanghchalak Mohan Bhagwat in Kurukshetra, the RSS opposed religion-based reservation saying it was unnecessary. “While we are in favour of reservation to various deprived sections of Hindus considering their condition like untouchability, we are against the religion based reservation,” said the report tabled by Sarkaryawah Suresh Bhaiyaji Joshi.

The report says that the RSS held 39,823 daily shakhas in 27,089 locations. Apart from that, the weekly shakhas are being held at 7,356 places while 6,949 places are witnessing other Sangh gatherings. The report says, “What is genuinely immediate is to concentrate on qualitative improvement” and says that “determined and committed workers can achieve results in any situation”. This pratinidhi sabha is being attended by over 1,000 delegates from all over the country and is being held for the first time in Haryana. It is also the first pratinidhi sabha since Mohan Bhagwat took over as RSS chief. On the Ranganath Misra Committee report, it said “This is nothing but a mockery of reservations awarded to the Scheduled Castes.”

Excerpts from Justice Saldanha’s records on Recent attacks

On March 17, over 150 agitated men belonging either to the VHP or the Bhajrangdal obstructed the burying of the body of a 50 year old Christian named Isaac at Gijahalli near Arasikere in Hassan district. They even abused the deceased man’s relatives by saying “ The soil of India would be contaminated if the body of such persons are buried here. The body should be buried in Rome or America.” Some dragged the coffin and took it to some other place and the burial later took place following police intervention under the leadership of Fr Sunderraj, parish priest of St Thomas Church.

Reacting to this incident Justice Saldanha said, “ The BJP considered a staunch advocator of Hindutva ideology is to be blamed for such incidents. This party is trying to make Karnataka another Orissa.” He further said : “ When a VHP leader was killed in eastern Orissa on August 23, 2008, the blame was falsely put on Christians thereby sowing the seeds of hatred between Hindus and Christians. The result was an attack on Christians by some communal Hindus.”

If everything is fine in Orissa now, in Karnataka, Christians are continuously being attacked. Not only that, false allegations that Christians here are resorting to conversions are made. Since September 2008, nearly 486 Christian activists have been subject to attack by communal forces in rural areas. The police have lost complete control over the law and order scenario and the people have to live in fear. Still efforts are being made to prove that everything is fine and peaceful here,” Justice Saldanha said. He further added : “ The minorities are unsafe in the state as both Chief Minister B.S Yeddyurappa and Home Minister VS Acharya come from RSS background.

Though the public has widely protested against the BJP and the attack on Christians, the Congress and the JD(S) have not reacted sharply. Police are the ones, who fix Christians in conversion cases, book them under non-bailable sections,” he complained. Based on the findings of the study report, Justice Saldanha said the state government was ‘luring the media with cash’ to divert attention from such incidents. The government was also issuing advertisements as it pleased just to keep everything under check, in turn incurring crores of rupees of losses to the state ex-chequer.”

Justice Saldanha’s Open Letter to the Home Minister

Dr. V.S. Acharya

Hon’ble Home Minister,

Karnataka State Government.

On the sad and shameful occasion of the 1,000th Church attack, since, 14.09.2008, the recent statement by you, widely carried by the Media, and issued in your official capacity as Home Minister, which is an admission on behalf of the State Government, to the effect that it cannot provide any security to the Churches and other religious places, is an official and open acceptance of the fact that your Government is unable to uphold and refuses to protect the rights of the minorities in Karnataka.

The reason put forward is that there is shortage of manpower in the Police Department. The truth of the matter is that the levels of professionalism and integrity in the Police Department are bordering on ZERO. The first question that arises in the public mind is the issue as to whether this is also a frank and an official admission of the fact that the State Government cannot deal with the Law and Order situation in Karnataka. As it is, total lack of management of the traffic situation in the State has resulted in Karnataka having the highest rate of accidents in the Country, and as far as Bangalore City is concerned, we are close to the position where it is becoming difficult and dangerous to even MOVE on the roads. Obviously, as the Home Minister, you, as also the other police authorities of your Department do not drive yourselves, but what I have recorded holds good for every other citizen who has to use Bangalore’s roads, which includes myself.

The Law and Order situation in the State is very close to a total breakdown and the statement made by you only reiterates that the Government is unable to cope with its constitutional obligations. This State is far worse than Orissa and Gujarat as far as attacks on minorities and their places of worship are concerned. I have done a detailed investigation into these attacks and inter-alia, I have found that it is the Home Department and the Police Department who are more responsible for these attacks than the alleged assailants. In the majority of cases where violence was used, it was at the hands of the police and where the Churches were damaged and desecrated, it was done by the police. THE FEELING AMONG ALL THE MEMBERS OF THE MINORITY COMMUNITIES IS THAT THERE IS A GENERAL FEELING OF INSECURITY IN KARNATAKA AND THAT THEY ARE BETTER OFF WITHOUT YOUR POLICE!.

The persons responsible for these attacks and who have admitted it before the media and the TV were never proceeded against, whereas the Editors who protested and published the true facts had an unending number of criminal cases filed against them. Editor Seetharam had about 20 false cases registered against him. He almost lost his life in your Home Town at Udupi at the hands of the Police who even tried to finish him off in a fake encounter, produced him in Court IN CHAINS, and he was wrongfully retained in custody for over a month until the High Court intervened and passed strictures against the State Government and even ordered compensation. My Report establishes that you and your sons had a direct hand in all of this.

Law and Order is the primary responsibility of the State and you have officially proclaimed that the State is unable to provide the requisite security. My personal view is that with the track record of the police in the Church attack cases that they are the last people who should be even permitted near any place of worship. That does not dilute the obligation of the Government and in the light of your statement, the Government has no right to continue in office. The general feeling is that in vital areas such as maintenance of Law and Order, which is crucial, that if a Government cannot provide an efficient machinery and if it abdicates its functions, then it is a legal admission of incapacity to deal with the Constitutional obligations. Shortage of manpower has been pleaded as an excuse for Bangalore having the worst traffic situation for any State Capital in the country. The truth of the matter is that we require a better police force. Numbers are not the issue but if numbers are to be increased, there is absolutely no problem in doing that because there are more than enough of recruits available.

The truth of the matter is, as pointed out in my Report, that the Government has colluded with and instigated the attacks and your Department has directed that every Police Station must register at least 50 cases per month of alleged conversions. It is poor helpless people who have been picked up and targeted and to date, since, 14.09.2008, 1868 false cases have been registered. There was not even ONE such case before 14.09.2008, logic and commonsense would indicate that after the attacks, nobody would have even dared to even attempt anything of this sort, and yet the Police under the directions of the Home Department have been indiscriminately registering false cases arresting the victims, beating them up and objecting to Bail for long periods of time. It is unfortunate that the subordinate Judiciary has been endorsing this action by the Police by denying bail whenever there are objections, but the real blame lies with the Department for making false arrests.

You have stated that the places of worship should arrange for their own security which most of them can ill afford. Is it your suggestion that every time there is an attack that there should be a communal riot? Public security is a primary constitutional obligation and is required to be funded out of the tax-payer’s money. The security of these places is paramount because apart from damage and desecration, there is a serious insecurity problem in the minds of the minorities and as a direct result, they are unable to practice their religion for fear of violence and death. If the Government admits its inability in the face of a breakdown of the Law and Order situation, the general view is that the Police Department may be wound up and the tax-payer’s money be saved and the citizens will learn to look after themselves.

Please be kind enough to spend a few minutes reading this letter, which is an open letter to you on behalf of the right thinking citizens of Karnataka and please either reply to it or issue a public statement with regard to what is the reaction of your Government. If you maintain what has been officially stated by you, the matter will be taken up with the Governor of Karnataka who will have to decide as to whether in the light of the breakdown of the Constitutional machinery, you can continue to hold office as the Home Minister and whether the Government is legally disqualified from continuing in office.

Justice Michael F Saldanha (Retd) Formerly Mumbai High Court and later Karnataka High Court

Source – Catholic-Christian Secular Forum (CSF), Mumbai 55.

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