Church attacks: Clean chit to BJP, Sangh
The commission in its report submitted on Friday cited circulation of derogatory literature with "insulting attitude" against Hindus and issues of conversion as the main reasons for the attacks, which had caused a huge embarrassment to the first ever BJP government in the south.
In its findings, the commission headed by Justice BK Somasekhara said there were clear indications of conversions in seven districts by a few organisations and "self-styled or self-appointed pastors" by "inducements" and as "a commercial bargain using unaccounted local and foreign funds".
Somasekhara, who submitted his findings to Chief Minister Yeddyurappa, however, cleared allegations of conversions made against Roman Catholic churches.
"There appears to be no conversions at all by Roman Catholic churches or their members except for routine purposes like marriage or voluntary instances," the report, whose conclusions were made public by Somasekhara, said.
The report has come as a relief to BJP which had come under attack in the wake of the incidents that took place within an year of the saffron party coming to power.
"There is no basis to the apprehension of the Christian petitioners that politicians, BJP, mainstream Sangh Parivar and state government directly or indirectly are involved in the attacks," according to the commission findings.
The commission said the attacks were carried out by "misguided fundamentalist miscreants of defined or undefined groups or organisations against Christians and Christianity who have mistakenly presumed that they would be protected by the party in power with the policies at the relevant time".
There was an element of drama with Yeddyurappa pleading to the Commission chairman not to make his findings public before the government took a view, but Somasekhara asserted "it is my desire and privilege to bring it before the people".
The churches were attacked in the districts of Mangalore, Udupi, Chikamagalur, Kolar, Chikkaballapur, Bellary and Davangere during September 2008.
The commission recommended to the government to enact a legislation to ensure prevention of atrocities on any person in the name of religion and to ensure protection to all.
The commission which during its two-year enquiry received 1,000 petitions and examined 800 witnesses said "some incidents of attack are true, some self inflicted, some make believe, some blown out of proportion and some totally politicised."
The police came in for criticism for its excesses like baton charge on children and women in some incidents and the commission dubbed as "imprudent and unreasonable" on the part of police to enter the premises of some churches in Dakshina Kannada without following legal requirements.
It, however, lauded police role in handling the situation and taking action against culprits. Most of the miscreants had been nabbed and a large number of charge sheets had been filed.
The Commission said there was no basis for the impressions and allegations that the present government was "cold shouldering the interest of minority Christian community".
Speaking after presenting the report, Somasekhara said "It is a sensitive and complex matter entrusted to the commission."
Yeddyurappa said the government would study the report and initiate necessary action.
The commission said it was true that some persons involved in conversions were getting funds from some sources including foreign countries and misused it for mass conversions of innocent and helpless members of weaker sections.
In this context, the Commission favoured stringent financial check and audit of the activities of pastors.
It supported the plea of Christian memorialists for action as per law against Bajrang Dal Convenor Mahendra Kumar who publicly sought to justify the attacks on churches.