Deputy SP Ganapathy and Politics of “Church attacks” in Karnataka

An analysis of how Church politics affected the life of Deputy SP Ganapathy.

In the previous article, I narrated how systematically the Church is engineering fear psychosis among its own flock. I also briefly explained the importance of Mangaluru among all India Churches. Christians in Mangaluru have been constantly brainwashed through Sunday sermons about the ‘threats to the community’ for a long time, but all such cases referred to were from faraway places. So, a local incident in Mangaluru was essential to corroborate their long standing claim. Hence, came the ‘Church attacks’ in September 2008.

A case study of this one incident will throw much light on the politics of ‘Church attacks’ happening all across India and expose the conspiracy behind it.

On July 7, 2016, a police officer, Deputy SP MK Ganapathy, committed suicide. He had played a crucial role in containing the unruly mob created by Padre Valerian Pinto at Kulshekar Church during the so called “Mangaluru Church attacks” in 2008. It is out in the open now that this officer was systematically targeted by K J George, ex home minister, for doing his duty honestly in containing the mob during Kulshekar Church incident. The fact that an honest police officer was targeted at the instructions of the Church is a matter of grave concern and reminds one of the political clout that the Christian clergy enjoys in India in general, and Karnataka in particular. It is very unfortunate that the targeting and defaming of MK Ganapathy continues even after his death.

Of late, Justice M F Saldanha, retired High Court Judge, has also joined the bandwagon to defame DySP MK Ganapathy and justify all the targeting was carried out against him since 2008. I have reasons to believe that the so called Church attacks of 2008 September were actually engineered by the bishop of Mangaluru, with assistance from some of his advisor padres and colleague from across India. My conclusion is based on following facts and circumstantial evidence.

An adoration center of the nuns (not a Church) at Milagres was attacked during the early hours of Sunday, September 14, 2008 morning, damaging a crucifix with no injury or casualty to any person. Attacks also happened on some centers of the New Life Group, who have no connection with the regular Church and who are a nuisance to Christians as much as they are to the Hindus. Within no time, the news spread like wild fire all across the diocese of Mangaluru and soon rumor mongering reached its peak, with all sorts of false claims about Churches being attached across all three districts of Mangalore diocese being spread. Church bells were rung and mobs, consisting mostly of youths, were allowed to gather. It must be borne in mind that the Church bells with the alarm are rung only when the Church is on fire or in case is a serious attack and is never done during normal conditions. Previously, such alarming Church bells were heard, when Tipu Sultan had attached Mangaluru and sacked the Churches. And 2008, was probably the first time that the Church bells were rung after Tipu’s time! These alarming Church bells could not be have been rung without the sanction/instigation of the bishop himself. This clearly points towards the entire incident being a premeditated and preplanned act to instigate Christian mob through such false alarms.

Within hours, the incident hit the national headlines and by evening, it had become international news! A very small incident of this kind could not have attracted national and international media attention, without prior rehearsal and ‘media management’. At least a week’s preparation would have been needed to get the coverage of this magnitude. It is interesting to note that Justice Saldanha, who investigated the ‘Church attacks’, has claimed that the camerapersons belonging to CNN and BBC recorded the September 14 events, even though, both the media houses have no presence on Mangaluru, with their nearest office being in Bengaluru, which is at least eight hour journey from Mangaluru by road. This shows that the Church authorities had prior intimation of attack on themselves and so was the media. Without the complicity of the Church and the media, it would not have been possible to portray a stray local headline into a National headline declaring ‘persecution of Christians’. The role of national media is especially suspicious and needs to be thoroughly probed.

Then, on the next day, September 15, 2008, a bandh was planned and the Bishop himself had instigated the youths to furiously protest. Sensing trouble, the district administration had clamped prohibitory orders under section144 CrPC. Yet, the padre and the mob made enough preparations throughout the night by stocking stones, bricks and soda bottles inside Church compounds and cemeteries to be used for pelting on the police and innocent general public, the next day. This especially happened under the watch of notorious padres like Valerian Pinto. On September 15, after the mob defied section 144 CrPC and pelted stones on the police and the public at various places and injured many of them, the Bishop came out of the hospital he had got himself admitted to, a day before and ‘condemned’ the attacks by Christian youth, which he himself had instigated the previous day.

At Kulshekar Christian, Christian youths pelted stones and created a ruckus under the instruction and incitement of Padre Valerian Pinto. It was then that the police inspector of Kadri Police Station, M K Ganapathy, rushed to the Church, where the mob was rioting and brought them under control by using lathi charge. It is for this ‘crime’ of stopping the rioting Christian mob, that MK Ganapthy was haunted by K J George for years on the instructions of the Bishop and the Mangaluru South MLA, ultimately resulting in him committing suicide.

On the third day, i.e. September 16, the Bishop and the Padres met with the so called ‘Church attackers’ and agreed to ceasefire and realized a press statement, accordingly. The swiftness with which the meeting and the ceasefire happened raises some serious questions. How come a meeting between the Bishop and the attackers could be fixed up at such a short notice? How did the both sides agree to ceasefire after a single meeting? Did the Bishop know the attackers beforehand and hence was able to convince the attackers to ceasefire in a single meeting? Or were they all connived together to stage the attack? Why the Bishop and the padres delayed setting up a meeting with the attackers by two days, thus allowing the Christian mob to riot? Why were the Christian youths allowed to stack up stones and bricks inside Church compounds?

It is important to remember that the entire 2008 Mangaluru incident happened in the backdrop of Khandamal of Odisha. Odisha saw the worst kind of riots following the brutal killing of Swami Lakshmanananda Saraswati in August 2008. Though, Sunday Church sermons in Mangaluru tried to portray this incident as a ‘persecution’, not much ice could be cut as there were killings from each side, with the very first casualty being on the Hindu’s side. So, shifting the battleground to a place where Christians have a clout to transform it into a world news was necessary. Mangalore being a stronghold of the Christians, the Church saw it as a good strategy to shift the battle ground to its own yard.

Before the September 2008 attacks, a local midday daily was regularly publishing reports about maladministration, corruption, financial frauds, and scandalous behavior of padres all across Mangalore diocese and the Church heads had no explanation to offer. People were disillusioned and enraged by these corrupt and scandalous actions of the Padres. So, the Church heads were desperately scouting for an external target, using which they could rally their flock and deviate attention from their own scandals and in the so-called Church attacks, they found their rallying point. Another reason for stage managing the entire incident was to target the then newly formed BJP government headed by B. S. Yeddyurappa. It is quite possible that the nuns were attacked, because the Church had an eye on the properties owned by the adoration center. Only a custodial interrogation of Bishop Aloysius Paul D’Souza, Padre Valerian Pinto and other advisors of the bishop, and of those Hindu elements, who actually carried out the attack, will be able to bring out the truth.

Recently, Justice Saldanha recalled his ‘fact finding’ report on 2008 Church attacks and pointed out how Dy SP Ganapathy had ordered the lathi charge. But, his so called fact-finding report was incomplete, had stopped short of exploring the entire situation and had failed to take all aspects of the issue into account. I had in fact prepared a detailed response dated February 14, 2009, to his fact finding report, and had circulated it to few influential people.

In his report, Saldanha had recorded the events that had happened, since September 14, 2008. But he had failed to analyze the history and background of the attacks, which, if he had done, would have given him a different and a more comprehensive view of the entire incident. The fundamental question, which he failed to ask was, why such an attack happened in the first place? What are the issues that are causing animosity between the Christians and the Hindus in Mangaluru?

Proselytization has been a contentious issue in the past few decades and Christians, especially the Church has been accused of continuously indulging in it. There has to be a clear cut answer on this issue as there is no scope for ambiguity. Yet, all along, the approach of the Church has been anything but clear cut. While addressing a press conference on September 15, 2008, the Bishop of Mangaluru had categorically said “we don’t do conversions.” But, at prior occasions, he had called conversions as a fundamental right enshrined in the constitution! Time and again the Church has refused to address the issue. The question is, if the Church does not do conversions, why not challenge those who are making allegations to provide evidence? Instead, even when the evidence is offered, the Church runs away and takes shelter under the excuse “right to religion”. Church’s reluctance to address the concerns of the Hindus regarding conversions can be best gauged by the fact that, when former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had called for a nationwide debate on “conversion”, instead of using the opportunity to come clean, the Christian clergy chose to downplay the idea and even attacked the then Prime Minister for floating the idea of a debate.

These issues were conveniently ignored by Justice Saldahna and instead, he blamed the police in his report. It is easy to blame the police, but one has to understand their position as well. What are the police expected to do, when pelted with stones? Should they keep quiet, receive beatings and become martyrs? Or should they do their duty and diffuse the situation with whatever means available? These questions remain unanswered. It is true that there have been many incidents, wherein the police have violated human rights and have committed excesses. But, that does not mean, every incident of police action is a violation of human rights. 2008 Church attacks was one such incident, where the police headed by SP Satishkumar had no alternative but to use force to diffuse the situation. Dy SP Ganapathy, who was then an inspector, had tried his best to defuse the situation peacefully at Kulshekar Church, but the mob instigated by Padre Valerian Pinto did not heed to his request. Instead, the mob abused the police and pelted stones. Even Ganapathy was injured by the pelting of stones. When the situation started going beyond control, it was then that Ganapathy resorted to using force. The police then barged into the Church, lathi charged the mob and dispersed the crowd. It is ridiculous to expect the police to keep away from the Church, while the rioting mob is hiding inside the Church. Instead, it is the duty of the Christian community to maintain the “sanctity” of the Church by preventing the entry of the mob into the Church. By pelting the stones on the police, instead of cooperating with them in maintaining law and order, Christian community emerged as a law-breaking community. Thus, instead of blaming the police, it would do well for the community to self-introspect.

Here, I must recall an incident, which happened a few years ago, in the neighboring district of Kasaragod. Though Kasaragod comes under Kerala state, it is very much a part of Mangalore diocese. A Church in Vorkady of Kasargod had some boundary dispute, with the adjacent property and hence, there was ruckus, when the Church decided to build a compound wall at the disputed boundary. But the Parish priest decided to continue with the construction work and invited all the people belonging to the Church to come as volunteers for the work. As people started the work, a police jeep came to the site to enquire. Upon seeing the police, the parish priest instigated the people to throw stones at them. As a result, the unarmed police was beaten and driven away. The enraged police returned with platoons of armed policemen and charged on those working at the site. The Parish priest crossed the border to Mangaluru (Karnataka) and escaped the police. The police raided Christian houses for days until all the men, who were involved in pelting stones were taken into custody. The ‘Rakknno’ a Konkani weekly, which is a mouthpiece of Mangalore Bishop, published this news, calling it a ‘brutal attack on Christians’ by Kerala police in Kasargod. It is interesting to note that AK Anthony, a “Christian” was the Chief Minister of Kerala at that time. Hence, it was not only the police under a BJP government, who lathi-charged Christian mob, but the police under a Christian CM had also beaten Christian mob on numerous occasions! The supposed police brutality is not unique towards Christians. It has been equally tasted by Hindus, Muslims, and Sikhs alike in India.

We, Christians take strong offence, when a crucifix is attached. Mangaluru Bishop even justified the rioting after the 2008 attacks, by terming them “natural” and “spontaneous”. Just imagine, how Hindus may be feeling, considering how they are continuously at the receiving end of insult and condemnation of their beliefs, rituals, and culture at the hands of Church and Christian missionaries. If, the large number of Hinduphobic literature published by the missionaries in the guise of spreading ‘good news’ were to receive the ‘natural reaction’, the kind used by Bishop to justify rioting in the aftermath of 2008 attacks, then Christians may have been driven out of this country long back! Christians need to take a lead in resolving the issue of proselytization peacefully. As I have already pointed out numerous times, our clergy often involve themselves in polarizing issues, thereby damaging our community, the brand Mangaluru, and the brand India. Christian community needs to introspect. Conversion by missionaries is as true as day light, and our (entire community) support to it in the form of contributions to the ‘mission’ (conversion) needs to be revisited, if we want peace and harmony. The third Sunday of October every year is celebrated as “mission Sunday” all over the world, with many Christians contributing to the ‘cause’ crores of rupees, and yet, they dare to say “there are no conversions.” If Hindus feel threatened by these activities, they obviously have a point.

Following September 14, 2008 incident, a leading Kannada daily ‘Vijay Karnataka’ had tried to act as a bridge between us(Christians) and the Hindus and had made a sincere effort to initiate a meaningful debate about “conversion”, all the while making their (the newspaper’s) stand clear that they would publish both ‘pro’ and ‘against’ articles. The debate was started by an article by Dr. SL Byrappa, wherein he made a strong case against conversions. Even though, the newspaper had invited responses to Byrappa’s article, nobody from the Christian community could effectively counter the argument presented by Byrappa. All they could muster was a response by a Padre of the Mangalore diocese, wherein the Padre simply condemned Byrappa for his article, instead of meaningfully rebutting him. The editor of the said newspaper told me that he had personally contacted many important leaders of the Christian community and had requested them to provide factual responses countering the charges of conversion, but none of them were ready. Apparently, many declined to write a response because they considered Byrappa’s article too thorough and scientific and hence difficult to counter. Thus, instead of a worthwhile academic discussion on the issue of conversions, our clergy chose to stage a ‘protest’ against the newspaper. In fact, P B D’sa, a renowned human rights activist, went as far as registering a FIR against the newspaper!

The attitude of the Christian community in general and of the Church and the clergy in particular, towards the issue of conversion is highly disturbing. It is high time that the Christian community asks itself, how much patriotism do we have? How much respect and regard do we have towards our motherland and the constitution? As the things stand today, the commoners are obedient and faithful towards the priests, who in turn are obedient towards the bishops. The bishops in India are sworn to be “obedient and faithful” to the “Apostolic Nuncio” at Delhi, who is the head of the Church in India. This “Apostolic Nuncio” is a foreign national, who is the official ambassador of the ruler of Vatican and we are happy to be governed by the ‘canon law’ of the Vatican, instead of constitution of India. So, are we really faithful to the constitution of India? A question to ponder over.

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Social and Political activist from Mangaluru, Karnataka