FKCA Organises Press Conference Condemning Atrocities on Christians
Posted On: 18/09/2008 18:03 GMT
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By FKCA Team - Bangalore
Bangalore September 18th 2008:THE FEDERATION OF KONKANI CATHOLIC ASSOCIATIONS OF KARNATAKA (FKCA) organized a Press Conference on the 17th of September, 2008 at the Press Club, Cubbon Park, Bangalore. The purpose was to  strongly condemn the series of attacks against Christian churches, prayer halls and other institutions in Mangalore, Udupi, Chikmagalur on 14th September 2008, Sunday morning and the subsequent and continuing attacks by activists of Bajrang Dal and other fundamentalist forces. 

The Press Conference was well attended by representatives of leading newspapers, periodicals and Television Channels.
Mr. Gabriel Vaz, Political Editor, Economic Times, started the programme with a short introduction. 

Mr. Charles Gomes, President of FKCA, opened the briefing with a summary of the recent atrocities. He said that groups of saffron-clad activists of Bajrang Dal, Vishwa Hindu Parishad and other outfits had attacked and vandalized at least 15 to 20 churches, prayer halls and other institutions in the three districts on Sunday morning within a short span of less than an hour. 

He added that It was obvious that the attacks were well-planned and executed in a systematic manner by different groups  who landed in motor bikes, cars, jeeps and other vehicles armed with lathis, stones and other weapons to create the maximum damage and panic knowing fully well that all Christians would be busy taking part in Sunday mass, prayers and other forms of worship along with their families. Judging by the manner in which the attacks were simultaneously carried out in different places in the three districts, it was evident that the entire operation was master-minded by some Central authority and probably with the blessings of the powers-that-be.   

He strongly denounced the attacks and vandalism caused by the Bajrang Dal  activists and other anti-social elements,  who had the audacity of assaulting  those who sought to resist such hooliganism.  He added that the unlawful elements went to the extent of damaging religious symbols and statues including mutilating the Holy Cross or cutting the hands and legs of the statues of Jesus Christ, which is an affront and insult to the community and our religious beliefs. 

He urged the BJP Government headed by Chief Minister Sri B S Yeddyurappa, and the Home Minister Dr V S Acharya, who belongs to the coastal region - Udupi, to take stern measures to control the unruly activists of Bajrang Dal and other fundamentalist forces and bring them to book.  He said that It was regrettable to note that the BJP Government  failed to prevent the unlawful activities, who had clearly indicated their intentions by forcibly trying to take over the place of worship in the possession of the Bondel church authorities in Mangalore  for over 60 years on flimsy grounds only recently and followed it up with attacks on Christian places of worship in Davangere just recently.  Instead of preventing the untoward happenings and ugly incidents, the BJP Government sought to suppress the just and understandable anguish of Christian community using the police to brutally resort to mindless lathi-charge and bursting of tear-gas shells against innocent people, including women and children. Instead of arresting the real culprits, they were busy arresting  innocent Christians, vandalized the church!  He strongly condemned brutality by police and  demanded  release of the people immediately, free from all charges.

Fielding questions from reporters on allegations that Christians were involved in conversions and distribution of literature belittling Hindu Gods, Mr. Charles Gomes strongly denounced the baseless propaganda accusing Christians of indulging in conversions. Mrs. Albina Vaz, Vice Chairperson of FKCA and Mr. Valerian Fernandes, former Chairman of FKCA, who shared the dais, clarified that If Christians, be they Catholics or any other sects belonging to Christian community like New Life, Pentecost, Jehovah's Witnesses etc are indulging in conversions through inducements and force as alleged,  it was baffling why the Christian population has been coming down over the years. 

Even assuming for argument's sake that some Christian groups or sects are guilty of forcible conversions or through inducements,  there are enough laws to take care of such acts. No group or political party, much less Bajrang Dal, Vishwa Hindu Parishad or other Sangh Parivar outfits owing allegiance to BJP -- either directly or indirectly --  can be allowed to take the law into their own hands and function as a super and extra-constitutional law enforcing agency.  Mr. Charles Gomes concluded with a strong request urging the Government to take stern measures to curb the lawlessness of activists of Bajrang Dal, VHP and other outfits and ensure that nobody is allowed to take law into their own hands.  He requested that all those responsible for the attacks, vandalism and violence must  be arrested and criminal cases booked against them to send a strong message to the people the BJP Government is fair to all sections of society.  The Government must also ensure safety and protection of all Christians and other minorities.  Just because Christians are a peaceful and law-abiding community,  their peaceful and docile nature should not treated as a liability or weakness. 

He also demanded that the National Minorities Commission as also the National Human Rights Commission to send special fact finding teams to all the affected places in the state, especially in the coastal districts, to make an on-the-spot assessment of the actual situation and submit a comprehensive report to the Parliament for suitable corrective action and if necessary, pull up the State Government for its acts of omission and commission. 

Meanwhile, the State Government should take immediate steps to arrest the culprits responsible for the havoc and ensure that the Churches and places of worship should be repaired at Government's cost to restore the damages.  While the innocent youth, women and children and general public who were injured due to the attacks must be provided with compensation besides providing free medical treatment.  The innocent youth, women and children and general public who had assembled in the Churches or their respective places of worship for continuous attacks by Bajrang Dal and other activists to protect their religious symbols following the outrage and arrested by the police on trumped up false charges must be released forthwith and the false complaints lodged against such innocent persons must be withdrawn forthwith.

Asked about what was the next plan of action of the FKCA, Mr. Gomes said that the next course of action would be finalized during the meeting of the FKCA Members to be held shortly after the Press Conference.

Mr. Anil Rego, General Secretary and Mr. B. V. Pinto, Joint Secretary were the other dignitaries on the dais. The meeting was also well attended by office bearers of all the Member Associations of the FKCA.

The Federation is now in its 11th year of existence and comprises of 14 Konkani Catholic Associations in Bangalore alone. Konkani Catholic Association in Mysore is also affiliated to the Federation and Konkani association of other cities of the Karnataka are in a process of affiliating to the Federation

Edited & Published By Raj Francis Pereira
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