Two churches stoned, probe into Sunday attacks (Lead)

September 19th, 2008 - 9:51 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata PartyBangalore, Sep 19 (IANS) Two places of Christian worship were attacked Friday in Karnataka causing minor damage even as the government announced a probe by a retired high court judge into Sunday’s attack on number of churches and subsequent violence.The glass pane cover of the statue of Infant Jesus outside the church premises at Moorje in the coastal Dakshina Kannada district, about 400 km from here, and window panes of another place of worship at Manchanhalli, around 70 km from here, were damaged in the stone throwing early Friday, police said.

Quoting witnesses, the police said that some people riding a motorbike threw stones at the Infant Jesus statue around 2.30 a.m., damaging the glass cover.

In Manchanhalli, window panes of a Pentecostal church were broken, also by stones.

Reports of the two incidents came as the state’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government reacted strongly to the central government’s advisory to it under article 355 of the constitution to take steps to protect the minorities, their places of worship and property.

Earlier in the day, Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa, who had Thursday rejected the opposition demand for a judicial probe, announced in Ankola in north Karnataka that a retired judge of the high court will probe Sunday’s attacks in Dakshina Kannada, Udupi and coffee-rich Chikmagalur districts.

The probe will cover the violence during Monday’s protest by Christians in Mangalore.

The name of the judge, terms of reference and timeframe for the probe would be announced in a day or two, officials said.

Yeddyurappa announced the judicial probe within hours of the government receiving the advisory from the central government.

The advisory, however, evoked sharp reaction from the state government, which called it unwarranted.

“Where was the need for it when the state government had acted firmly in the matter and a judicial probe had been ordered,” Home Minister V.S. Acharya told reporters.

“It is a politically motivated action,” said Acharya, who hails from the coastal region.

Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister S. Suresh Kumar said that even before the central advisory, the state had taken steps to ensure peace in the region and protect the minorities.

He said the state cabinet had decided to hold the police inspectors and senior police officers responsible for any attack on minorities and their places of worship under their jurisdiction.

“This decision has been conveyed to the police department,” he added.

The state government will send a reply to the advisory, if necessary, but it is not bound to do so, officials said.

Meanwhile, the Karnataka unit of Bajrang Dal denied any involvement in the attacks. State unit convenor Mahendra Kumar said he was ready for arrest “or any sacrifice in defence of Hindu religion”.

His arrest has been demanded by several Congress leaders and also by the members of the National Commission for Minorities who visited Mangalore Wednesday.

Commission member Harcharan Singh Josh said in Bangalore Thursday after meeting Acharya and senior officials that they had promised to arrest Kumar.

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