Former Karnataka judge to probe church attacks (Lead)

September 20th, 2008 - 1:29 am ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata PartyBangalore, Sep 19 (IANS) B.K. Somashekhara, a former judge of the Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh high courts, will probe attacks on churches in Karnataka and subsequent violence, the state government announced late Friday.The terms of reference and the time frame for the probe will be announced later, a spokesperson for Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa said.

The government decision to entrust the probe to a retired judge of the high court was announced by Yeddyurappa at a public meeting in Ankola in north Karnataka district of Uttara Kannada.

He had Thursday rejected the demand for a probe by a serving judge of the high court and instead directed the Corps of Detectives to conduct the enquiry.

A number of churches and prayer halls were damaged Sunday in coastal districts of Dakshina Kannada and Udupi and coffee-rich Chikmagalur. Christians’ protest the next day in Dakshina Kannada district headquarters Mangalore turned violent as they clashed with Hindu groups and police.

Police had used baton and teargas to disperse protesters at several places in Mangalore and banned assembly of five or more people for three days from Sunday.

Over 70 people, including 45 policemen, were injured in the Mangalore violence, according to state Home Minister V.S. Acharya.

Earlier Friday, the central government advised the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in Karnataka to ensure protection of minorities, their places of worship and property.

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