Minority panel wants paramilitary forces in Karnataka

September 26th, 2008 - 3:21 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Sep 26 (IANS) The National Commission for Minorities (NCM) has demanded immediate deployment of paramilitary forces in sensitive areas of Karnataka and sought stringent action against Bajrang Dal activists involved in attacks on churches in the state. In its report submitted to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) late Thursday, the minority panel has also requested the central government to ensure that protection be immediately given to vulnerable members of the Christian community.

More than two dozen churches have been attacked in Karnataka over the past week. This follows similar clashes in Orissa in which up to 20 people died after the killing of a Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader. Karnataka’s 2.5 million Christians say they’re being targeted for opposing the violence in Orissa.

“The report has asked the United Progressive Alliance government to rush central paramilitary forces to Karnataka to ensure safety and security of life and property of Christians being attacked,” a member of the NCM told IANS on condition of anonymity. He was part of the delegation that got a first hand account of the deteriorating situation in the state.

A team of the NCM led by chairperson Mohamed Shafi Qureshi had visited the violence-marred districts of Karnataka recently.

“The union government has been asked to guarantee right to life to people affected by violence in Karnataka. It is the duty of the government to ensure safety of people in the country if the state fails to do so,” the member said.

Stopping short of asking for a ban on the Bajrang Dal, the commission has said the violence was fanned by the right wing Hindu outfit and nothing was being done to contain its members.

“The panel has asked for stringent action against all organisations involved in spreading communal violence in the country including the Bajrang Dal,” the official added.

The report will be given to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh after his return from the US and France on Oct 1, he said.

Tension still runs high in many parts of the state. The sudden spurt of anti-Christian violence in Karnataka is causing major concern to the government in New Delhi.

The attacks on Christian places of worship began in coastal Karnataka Sep 14 and spread to Bangalore Sep 20 with one church broken into and damaged and three others stoned.

The central government had last week issued two ‘advisories’ under a rarely invoked constitutional provision. An advisory under the provision, Article 355, is seen in political circles as an indication that the central government may take over the state’s administration under Article 356 if the situation does not return to normalcy soon.

According to Article 355: “It shall be the duty of the Union to protect every State against external aggression and internal disturbance…”

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