Karnataka rejects Somasekhara Commission report on church attacks
The State Government of Karnataka in India rejected the report of the Justice B K Somasekhara Commission of inquiry into the 2008 church attacks in the State, which had exonerated the Hindutva organisations, after referring to their involvement in its interim report. Soon after the Bharatiya Janata Party Government came to power in Karnataka in 2008, there were a series of attacks on churches and prayer halls in Mangalore and other parts of Karnataka. Following protests from political parties and people from various fields, the Government constituted a commission for conducting enquiry. The report had given a clean chit to the then BJP Government.
Cabinet Rejected the Report
The cabinet rejected the report, citing discrepancies in its interim and final reports. After the commission submitted its final report in January 2011, the Christian community opposed it and urged the then ruling BJP Government to reject it. The Congress, then the principal opposition party, had also criticized the report, which had given a clean chit to right-wing Hindu organizations besides observing that such attacks were triggered because of conversion by some Christian outfits.
Briefing press persons after the Cabinet meeting of Karnataka, Minister for Law, Justice and Human Rights – Mr. T.B. Jayachandra said the decision to reject the report was taken on the basis of the recommendation by the Law Department, which studied the report in detail. He said it was unacceptable that a judicial commission contradicts the findings of its interim report in the final report.
Apart from rejecting the Commission’s report, the Cabinet has also directed the Home Department to implement all the nine recommendations made by the National Human Rights Commission, including bringing the guilty to book, providing protection to churches and suitable compensation to victims, besides training police on handling communal incidents.
Mr. Jayachandra pointed out that both Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and himself, who had earlier worked as leader and Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly, had been consistently opposing the Somasekhara Commission of Inquiry report for the alleged contradictions. He said the Government would instead act on the recommendations of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC). The apex human rights body had made these recommendations: provide compensation to victims of attacks; ensure security to churches; bring culprits to book through effective action; don't allow local Hindu groups to take the law into their hands; put in place confidence-building measures to inspire confidence of Christian; train police in human rights and provide them special training to handle communal tension.
"The cabinet decided to refer the issue to the home department for further action, including implementation of the NHRC recommendations,'' Jayachandra said.
Set up in September 2008, the commission, headed by former High Court Judge B.K. Somasekhara, had 300 sittings and examined 754 witnesses during its inquiry into the series of attacks on churches across the State. The commission had submitted its interim report in September 2009 and final report in January 2011. Meanwhile, the Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party termed the Cabinet’s decision to reject the report as an attempt to politicise an old issue. Rejecting the report amounts to doubting the integrity of the judge alleged the party media coordinator S. Prakash.
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