Treat church attacks as acts of terror

Photo courtesy: Wikimedia

A furore has been created in Karnataka and this time its once again regarding the Church attacks. Justice M F Saldanha, former judge of the Bombay and Karnataka High Court created a storm when he said that attacks on Churches should be treated as terrorist strikes. He went on to say that such acts are nothing but a manifestation of terrorism and there are many forms of terrorism and attacks on minorities is one of them.

The Karnataka state Government has claimed that the situation is under control where such attacks are concerned, but the fact remains that three more churches were attacked only last month. Justice Saldanha says that this is becoming a difficult situation and during his very recent visit to Britain and France there was utter dismay over the situation. He even said that the top leadership has expressed dismay over these attacks.

Justice Saldanha who had prepared a detailed paper on the Church attacks recently says in this interview with that if religious fanatism in Afghanistan is being treated as an act of terror, then I do not see any reason why attacks on Churches should not come under the same purview.

Have the attacks on Churches in Karnataka stopped?

Absolutely not. It continues to be a threat and even last month three churches in the Mangalore belt were attacked by miscreants.

How do you the state government of today dealing with the issue. Pre and post Yeddyurappa?

I feel it is a better situation. I really would not blame B S Yeddyurappa for the entire episode. It was his then Home Minister, Dr V S Acharya who is to be blamed for this thanks to complete inaction. He being a pracharak was answerable to the RSS and this is what led to the situation turning worse in these areas. All that Yeddyurappa did was support Acharya.

Regarding your discussion of this issue with the international community. You have been asked whether you are an Ambassador of the country to discuss our country’s problems abroad. Your thoughts on this sir.

Yes this question has been asked to me several times. Let me tell you I was not in the UK and France to discuss this matter. I was there to deliver a lecture. If the people there come and express their concern, it is not my fault. You may remember that the report that I have prepared is treated as an authentic one and this is what people want to know about.

Speaking of the discussion abroad. What do they really think of the Church attacks?

They are obviously concerned and treat some areas as unsafe. The states which come to their mind are Gujarat, Karnataka and Orissa.

Do you also feel that these three states are the worst hit where safety of Christians are concerned?

As of today the problem is only in Karnataka. The other states have taken stock of the situation and such attacks have stopped. I have been told that the Chief Minister of Gujarat, Narendra Modi has been doing an excellent job where the development of his state is concerned. Now when this is the reputation that every one has don’t you think a Church attack would only ruin it. Why should a prosperous state be known for negative incidents? Karnataka should also bear this in mind.

Is it even right on the part of the international community to sit in judgment about the issues over here?

They have expressed concern. Even we do express concern if there is violation of human rights in other nations. The fact is that the eyes of the world are on us and we cannot afford to set a bad precedent. Countries have been issuing advisories while travelling to India. If we portray to them that we are an intolerant state then such advisories would only increase and in the long run we would only lose in terms of revenue. Do we need this?

Now coming to your controversial statement about equating the Church attacks to terrorism. Could you explain that a bit to us?

These are not just incidents of communal violence. These are ways of terrorising a community and hence it should be treated as terrorism. Look at the manner in which the fanatics in Afghanistan behave. Has that not been treated as terrorism? Hence the same rule of law ought to be apply here as well.

Although repealed, are you trying to say that acts such as POTA or a TADA should be applied in such cases?

There are enough laws on hand to deal with terrorism. I feel the similar laws should be applied here as well. All I am saying is these cases should not be treated as cases of communal disharmony. The culprits tend to get away easily and the punishment should be such that it should act as a deterrent for further incidents.

Is there a change in the manner in which the Christians in Karnataka feel today after all these incidents?

That is my biggest worry. Do you really think the Christians will not fight back if they are terrorised this way every now and then. What do we gain at the end of it? Reaction and counter reaction. It will be absolute chaos and this is very bad in the larger interest of the state. Safety of a community being threatened is secondary, but the repurcussions is what we must worry about.

Has the Christian community started looking to the international community for help?

No they have not. Discussing the issue abroad does not mean we are looking for help. If the state government fails then we always have the union government to look up to.

Are you hopeful that the recommendations in your report will be acted upon?

Let us hope. But it has created an awareness.


Yeddy says bless you to his enemies

B S Yeddyurappa looks a relieved man. However nothing much has changed for him after his 23 day jail stint. His support base is intact and his residence still has large crowds. The man is as busy as ever.
Yeddyurappa known as Yeddy in Karnataka looks determined but equally bogged down thanks to the numerous cases that he has to face. During this very brief interaction he says he has no ambitions and is not an aspirant for any post. I am not power hungry and my only intention is to build the party.
I am embarking upon my state wide tour. the people still love me and I am going to them to seek their support.
When asked about the recent developments leading to the resignation of B Sriramulu, Yeddyurappa prefered to remain silent. All he had to say is that the party is looking into the matter. However I would campaign for the party in Bellary and would support any candidate that my party puts up over there.
When asked about his downfall, he said that everyone faces problems and he is a fighter. I will fight my way through. I never considered myself big. I always maintained that I am an ordinary foot soldier in the party who will work for it.
I have no aspirations for any post
On the allegation that he had stage managed the boycott of the recent L K Advani rally, he had nothing to say. I nurse no ill will against anyone. May God bless one and all, I will always pray for them.
Yeddy however did not divulge many details about his stay in jail. I said earlier everyobe faces hardships and I have faced them too. God is with me and I believe he will help me always.
Yeddyurappa has however been clearly instructed not to divulge details or share his views regarding the ongoing cases. It would amount to sub judice if he spoke about them. However he said that those who have stage managed things against him will face stringent action. I will come out clean I know that.

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Reddy’s in no hurry to float new party

B Sriramulu who decided to quit the BJP and contest the by elections as an independent candidate has sent in his formal letter of resignation to the party’s central leadership in New Delhi.The letter was sent just as the Karnataka BJP was planning on expelling him from the party.

While the BJP is still deciding on who to field against Sriramulu for the Bellary rural seat, the Reddy brothers who are backing Sriramulu have shown no hurry to float a new party. The original idea was to float a regional party, but they have now decided to hold on.

Sources in Bellary said that no decision to float a new has been taken as yet. It is a long term plan and would not be implemented immediately.

They would first test the waters and wait and see how Sriramulu fares in the by poll. They would then make him tour the state and also test the waters before floating a new party.

Moreover the Reddy brothers do not want to pull down or cause any problems for the ruling BJP in Karnataka as they believe they would lose face and sympathy if they did so. As a close aide of the Reddy brothers puts it, the BJP will complete its term in Karnataka, but they can forget that Bellary is their bastion.

Telangana development!

It is time for some hope again for those who have been seeking a separate Telangana state. The Congress leadership has summoned Botsa Sathyanarayana the Andhra Pradesh Congress chief toNew Delhito discuss the Telangana issue once again.

Sathyanarayana will be inNew Delhitoday and would hold discussions regarding the issue. The Congress has not involved any of the leaders from the other parties for this discussion. The Congress is working out a package for Telangana since they would need to be on a strong footing when the Andhra Pradesh legislative assembly resumes operations next month. Telangana apart from Jagan would be a major issue for the Congress to battle and losing more MLAs on the floor of the house could prove fatal for the party.

Sources in the Congress, Andhra Pradesh say that the they are not sure about what the Centre is planning, but are hopeful that some decision regarding the issue will come out. However the Telangana activists say that they are confident that an announcement for a separate state would not be made. A decision may come out in the next couple of days and they are expecting a package for Telangana.

Meanwhile things have quietened down completely in the Telangana region. The activists say that they would now wait and watch what the government inNew Delhiwill do on the issue and only then decide on the next course of action. We would want to see what discussions are held inNew Delhitoday and will await the outcome. Although many of us would be happy with a package, the fight would still continue until a separate state is granted.

Is the Jagan Mohan Reddy story coming to an end?

There is a battle for supremacy that is on at Andhra Pradesh. Next month when the assembly session resumes the most interesting thing to watch out for would the MLAs on the floor of the house and how they may or may not shift loyalties.

During the past couple of days, there have been reports which suggest that Jagan Mohan Reddy is slowly losing his clout in the Congress and most of his loyalists are trying to make a return to their mother party. The reason that they have been quoting is that Jagan faces too many cases and there is a possibility of his arrest which would mean doom for the party.

It is a fact that many are unhappy with Jagan Mohan Reddy largely due to the cases against him. They would not want to be identified with him especially if he is arrested as this would mean their political future would be weak. They have today put out a subtle threat stating they would return to the Congress and at the moment they are maintaining a distance. Overall they have adopted a wait and watch policy.

Sources in the YSR Congress party however say that there is no such development and they are expecting more from the Congress to come into their fold. They also accuse Kiran Kumar Reddy, the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh stating that he is luring these MLAs with goodies to keep his government intact. All out loyalists are very much with us, the YSR Congress party leadership also claims.

However for the Congress the going would be difficult when the Assembly commences operations next month. On day one Chandrababu Naidu of the Telegu Desam Party would move a no confidence motion against the Congress Government and Jagan Mohan Reddy is likely to back it. It would be on this day that things would become clear regarding the loyalties of the MLAs. The Congress is surviving on a very thin margin at the moment and would need the backing of every MLA to ensure its survival. In addition to the Jagan headache they also have to deal with the MLAs from the Telangana region who have been threatening to quit the party. There is also the added headache of the Telangana Rastriya Samithi which has already poached three of its MLAs.

Although Jagan does not find himself to be a favourable situation today, the grape wine still suggests that he is the biggest problem for the Congress. The big question is whether Jagan will continue to be aggressive with the Congress considering the mess he is in today with the CBI. Although his party workers claim that he will not go soft on the Congress, the fact remains that his approach towards this party has changed a great deal.

When the YSR Congress party was launched he said that he had only one opponent an that was the Congress. In fact he even stated that this was a battle between his late father Dr Y S Rajasekara Reddy and Sonia Gandhi. However for the past couple of days the scenario is very different. He has only been targeting the Telegu Desam Party which has made many raise their eye brows and ask the question if Jagan has been put down by the Congress. His party however has a very different explanation to this. They say the only reason they are targeting the TDP today is because this is the only worthwhile party. It is the only opposition in the state. The Congress has diminished and there is no need to target a party which is already out.

Some of his loyalists when contacted said that there is a cause for concern today and the going does not look too good for Jagan. We need to think of our future as well and in case the cases go against him we cannot identify with him. We have adopted a wait and watch policy and will decide when the time comes. However as of now we are not planning anything major they also say.

The Congress however is leaving no stone unturned to see to it that the Jagan faction is split. They too are aware that a split up YSR Congress party would mean that they survive longer in Andhra Pradesh.

Bellary stings continue-Sriramulu out of BJP

B Sriramulu- Photo

As expected the Bellary woes for the BJP have come back to bite it once again. Sriramulu, the closest aide of the Reddy brothers ofBellaryhas decided to contest theBellaryrural by elections as an independent candidate which makes him a former leader of the BJP.

While making this announcement he told the media that this is nothing but a battle for self pride. The manner in which I have been treated by the party has been insulting for me. The treatment has been crude and I do not think any of us fromBellarydeserved this treatment. I can never compromise with my self respect and pride at any cost. The Lokayukta report against me has been nothing but unfair. Since I am not getting justice anywhere, I will go to the peoples’ court and seek justice, he also said.

This is big trouble for the BJP since they are likely to lose their strong hold inBellarywhich was controlled by the Reddy brothers. Although technically the Reddy brothers-Janardhan, Karunakar and Somashekhar are still in the BJP, it is an open secret that Sriramulu would not even take a small decision unless and until he has their blessings.

Sriramulu in fact had made a visit toHyderabadwhere he met with Janardhan Reddy at the Chanchalgudda jail before he could make this decision. During that discussion the two discussed all these aspects and only then did Sriramulu come to the conclusion that he would contest as an independent. Sriramulu has always considered the Reddy brothers to be his mentor/brother.

The battle between Sriramulu and the BJP has been on for quite a while now. Almost two months back he had resigned as an MLA of the party and stated that he would come out clean. Political observers said that the idea was to float a regional party with the Reddy’s and then enter into a tie up with Jagan Mohan Reddy in Andhra Pradesh which in turn would mean that they would control the Reddy vote bank on the Karnataka-Andhra Pradesh border areas. However a day after he announced that Janardhan Reddy was arrested and their plans had to be put on hold.

Since then there has been a tug of war between the BJP and the Reddy brothers. A couple of days back, the BJP offered him a ticket, but Sriramulu had said that he would contest on a BJP ticket and in case he won the seat, he should be given a cabinet berth. Sriramulu had been kept out of the cabinet after the Lokayukta report. He told his party that if this demand of his is not met then he would contest as an independent.

The BJP leadership decided to stay firm and said that at any cost he or the Reddys would not be given a cabinet report in the wake of the Lokayukta report indicting all of them including Sriramulu. The BJP leadership in Karnataka is already involved in a series of meetings to discuss the new development and a decision on the same is expected later during the day.

BSY is out

B S Yeddyurappa finally walked free after spending 23 days in jail. His legal team completed all the formalities and also got the release order copy signed by the special lokayukta judge who is originally seized off this matter.
Yeddyurappa is accompanied by a host of his supporters and his jail stint has not lowered his support base even a little bit. He in fact had the undying support of Chief Minister D Sadananda Gowda who openly expressed hapiness over his release. I am happy that he is out and now I can finally seek his advise while ruling the state is what he had to say.
For Yeddyurappa it will be business as usual. He will meet with his family members and then it would be a series of meetings to discuss the developments at Bellary. Sriramulu of the Reddy camp has been seeking a cabinet berth in case he wins on a BJP ticket. He has also threatened to go it alone in case there is no assurance from the party. Yeddyurappa will be expected to play a key role in keeping the party together. Yeddyurappa had sent out feelers of a tie up with the Reddy brothers earlier before the BJP top brass dashed to him to prevent any such tie up.

In Karnataka Yeddy still rules

Yeddyurappa will walk free by evening after the Karnataka High Court granted him bail today. Although there is a long way to go for him thanks to the number of cases against him, it would be premature to say that the man is down and out.

His loyalists have stuck by him and even those opposing him in the party have realised that there is no way in which they can take him lightly despite him being in jail.

Yesterday the State BJP President, K S Eshwarappa who has been quite vocal about his opposition to the former CM, visited him in jail. He may have called it a courtesey visit, but the fact is that there is no courtesey left between the two. The visit makes it clear that the state leadership is a worried lot and at any cost they do not want a revolt within the party and neither do they want any cozying up of the Yeddyurappa and the Reddy faction.

Taming the Reddy brothers of Bellary has probably been one of the toughest tasks for the BJP. Earlier Yeddyurappa found it difficult and internally he blamed the central leadership for this issue as he felt that those in New Delhi never let him act against them. However post Illegal Mining Report-2, the BJP has very cautiously managed to keep the Reddy brothers at bay. None of them have been given cabinet berths and this had become a sulking point for them. This even prompted senior BJP leader, Sriramulu to quit his MLA post.

Today all eyes would be on both Yeddyurappa and Sriramulu. Yeddyurappa had sent across feelers that he would back Sriramulu who has been threatening that he would contest as an independent candidate. This has had the BJP worried a great deal as they do not want any alliance between the two of them.

It is a strange game of politics in Karnataka and if the BJP leadership does not act then the two biggest enemies within the party could join hands only to prove a point.

When Yeddyurappa was arrested a deliberate attempt was made to corner him and ensure that he is eased out of the party. However Yeddyurappa sensed this happening and rallied all his loyalists together and continued to show the strength he enjoyed within the party. He went a step ahead and sought to bully those in the party more when he ordered his men to abstain from the recently held L K Advani rally in Bangalore. There was not much that the party could do.

Although upset with Yeddyurappa they realised that acting tough on him would only have a disastrous effect on the party. Hence they chose to downplay the incident and slowly ignored that something of this sort ever happened.

His loyalists meanwhile rally around him as they see hope that their leader would be cleared of all charges and would return to active politics and also be at the helm of affairs. They still believe that he is the only one who can win the election for the party. Moreover the Lingayat vote base which was Yeddyurappa’s forte continues to remain intact which ensures that he is still a formidable force to reckon with.

From here onwards the Karnataka BJP would tread very carefully while dealing with Yeddyurappa. They would want the judiciary to corner him instead of them taking any step suo motu and upsetting the apple cart. The biggest cause for worry would however be any sort of a tie up between the Yeddyurappa faction and the Reddy brothers. In case the two cornered factions come together it would sure spell doom for the party.

Today the Karnataka BJP would do everything under the sun to see to it that Yeddyurappa stays within the party and his demands are met. There also a rumour floated by the Yeddy camp that they were in conversation with H D Kumaraswamy and could enter into an alliance. However this was just a rumour since sources confirmed that the reason why Kumaraswamy was at the jail a couple of days back was not to meet Yeddyurappa. This in fact was something that the Yeddy faction used to get the attention of the central leadership.

Today once Yeddyurappa is out of jail it would be back to business for him. The BJP leadership would be in discussion today to decide on the candidate for the Bellary rural by poll a constituency that fell vacant after Sriramulu resigned from his MLA post. Any decision of fielding a candidate would take place after consultations with Yeddyurappa only. In fact at jail yesterday too this was the discussion between Yeddyurappa and Eshwarappa. Sriramulu has thrown a couple of conditions at the BJP. He says if he wins on a BJP ticket then he should be made a Cabinet minister. If he is denied then he would contest as an independent. The trend tilts towards Sriramulu and the BJP too is aware that Sriramulu is capable of winning an election. Losing Sriramulu would only mean that the BJP loses a stronghold in Bellary. These are testing times again for the BJP and it would be interesting to see what Yeddyurappa and company would do to ensure that the party tides over this storm too.

Yeddyurappa walks free

Former Chief Minister of Karnataka, B S Yeddyurappa will walk free after spending 23 days in jail. The Karnataka High Court hearing his bail plea granted him bail on the condition that he furnishes a bond of Rs 10 lakh and a surety of the likesum. The order was passed by Justice B V Pinto who has been hearing arguments since the past two weeks.

His legal team is now preparing the paper work to secure his release and once the formalities are completed Yeddyurappa will walk free. The paper work is expected to be completed by evening today.

Yeddyurappa was arrested on October 15 after a Special Lokayukta court cancelled his bail and issued an arrest warrant against him. The charge against him in this case was that he had denotified land while misusing his office as the Chief Minister of Karnataka which in turn helped his family gain financially.
Justice B V Pinto while dealing with the fears allayed by the comainant in this case stated that the chance of Yeddyurappa tampering with the evidence would not arise. This is mainly because all the evidence has been documented. This point had also been raised before the Lokayukta court. The judge on that ocassion had stated that if Yeddyurappa remains out then he would tamper with the evidence as he is a very powerful person.
The other aspect that went in Yeddyurappa’s favour is the fact that Justice Pinto states that there are certain technical issues concerning this case. The sworn affidavits don’t make an averement to the authenticity of the documents that have been produced in this case.
Although Yeddyurappa has been released today on bail, the legal road ahead for him is not an easy one. There are at least 8 other cases against him which also includes the report on illegal mining which indites him. This was the report that forced him to step down as the Chief Minister of Karnataka.

Justice Pinto observed that “at the stage of taking cognisance, the trial court relied on the sworn statement and documents produced by the complainant (Sirajin Basha) but these documents were not subject to cross-examination at this state.
It is seen that all the documents (produced by the complainant) are either certified to be true copies of original documents not complainant in his sworn statement anywhere averred that the contents of the documents are true,” Justice Pinto pointed out while observing that mere reading of sworn statement does not disclose petitioners are guilty of any offence and hence there is no impediment for granting them bail.”
Yeddyurappa has kept his legal team busy all these days and they have filed for anticipatory bail pleas in all other cases against him.

Yeddyurappa’s arrest was also not short of drama. He was ordered to be arrested, but then he held out and decided to surrender before the court instead. Barely a few hours after he went to jail, he was taken out and shifted to a hospital when he complained of chest pain. However a couple of days later he was taken back to jail after the doctors cleared him.

The need for a Judges Accountability Bill

Off late there is a lot of talk regarding the necessity to have a Judges Accountability Bill. Even when the Lokpal Bill was being debated the inclusion of judges into this bill was strongly opposed by the government despite members of the civil society urging the government to make such an inclusion.
Off late there have been reports galore regarding judges being offered sites or houses under the discretionary quota of the Chief Minister. Recently there was an expose at the Orissa High Court. Prior to this there were reports from Karnataka and also another report which spoke about how the Narendra Modi government had offered prime lands to judges of the High Court.
The big question is whether judges deserve such treatment from the state government considering the fact that the government is the biggest litigant before any court in the country? Is this an illegality or is it corruption?

Justice Santhosh Hegde, former judge of the Supreme Court of India says it is illegal to accept sites under the discretionary quota. Judges ought to know that while accepting such sites they are succumbing to temptation. They have to examine any such offer and find out properly whether it is in accordance with law or not. It is very dangerous to accept such favours since in the days to come it would hold against themselves.

Speaking of a judges accountability bill, well there is one but it has not come out as yet. This has been loitering around for some years now and it is time that something is done about it. In fact while we were discussing the Lokpal bill this was one of the primary contentions during the debate. Either the government had to include it into the Lokpal Bill or make functional the judges accountability bill. However there was a lot of misunderstanding regarding this. All I said was it was not right to leave out the judges when we are fighting corruption. They should include this portion into the Lokpal bill. However once the Judges Accountability Bill is made functional then it could be deleted out of the Lokpal bill. There was no need to keep this in abeyance until that happened. When this issue is being argued and fought for the past 44 years then it is impertive for the government to include it.

Senior Advocate in the Karnataka High Court, Navkesh Batra is of the view that taking sites under the discretionary quota is nothing but corruption. First and foremost Judges are not entitled for a site under this quota. This quota is meant for poor people, outstanding people including judges. It cannot be given as a bul allotment as it amounts to nothing but a sop. When the government is the biggest litigant before any court in India then such a sop does not instill confidence in the public and it would be better if both the government and the judiciary abstains from such an act. Here I would like to quote the incident involving the great Justice R A Jagirdhar of the Bombay High Court. In fact he was the only judge who refused to apply for a site despite a request by the then Chief Minister of Maharashtra. He even went one step further and at a public function when the CM sought to shake his hand he publicly rebuked him by saying, ” Mr CM your cases are pending before the high court. As a high court judge I refuse to shake your hand.”