Indian Christians to Protest False, Unfair Reports on Anti-Christian Violence

Thousands of Indian Christians will peacefully take to the streets of Bangalore on Saturday, protesting the publication of a "false and unfair" report last week on anti-Christian violence.

Retired judge B. K. Somashekara of the Justice Somashekara Commission, who wrote the document, concluded that the 2008 attacks against Christians in the state of Karnataka that left 110 dead were initiated by individuals and not by organized movements, thus absolving Hindu fundamentalist organizations of any responsibility.

He also cleared the alleged involvement of the Government of Karnataka, led by the Hindu nationalist Baratiya Janata Party, in the attacks.

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The report has drawn strong protest from Christians across all denominations, while Hindu militant fundamentalists, including "Bajrang Dal," known as one of the most violent Hindu associations, welcomed the conclusion.

Joseph Dias, general secretary of the Christian Secular Forum, has called for the report to be "withdrawn and replaced with a new impartial investigation," Fides News Agency reported Thursday. "Otherwise we risk that the Hindu extremist movements which seek to eliminate the Christian presence from Indian society, will end up having the upper hand, with institutional support."

Dr. John Dayal from the National Integration Council and Dr. Abraham Mathai, vice chairman of Maharashtra Minorities Commission were also among those condemning the report at a press conference in the Press Club of India, New Delhi.

Dias has demanded the courts of Karnataka to immediately clear all charges against Christians for fraudulent and violent conversions in cases he believes are "based on totally false accusations."

A large number of concerned citizens are also expected to attend the protest meeting.

Though India's constitution provides for religious freedom, violence against the minority group continues to rise, with 149 anti-Christian attacks registered in 2010, according to a report by the Evangelical Fellowship of India.

It is the "clear responsibility" of the Baratiya Janata Party, said Dias. "In Karnataka and in other Indian states where the party holds power, anti-Christian attacks have risen substantially."

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