Police personnel used excessive force on those who protested against the attacks on churches in Mangaluru, India, in 2008. According to Vatican Radio, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has finally come to this conclusion.
As a result, in an order dated August 20 the state government has been directed to pay compensation of Rs 15,000 to each of the 12 victims, including women and nuns, who had sustained injuries.
Archbishop Bernard Blasius Moras of Bangalore welcomed the decision in a press release.
“I am relieved and thankful to hear that after almost seven years, the NHRC in its order dated August 20, 2015, has meted out justice to 12 victims of police excesses during the spate of attacks on churches in the Dakshina Kannada district in 2008,” he said.
“The NHRC’s statement,” the archbishop reflected, “[says] ‘It is not in dispute that the religious places of Christians were attacked by fundamentalists. It was natural for the followers of Christianity to feel agitated. It is their fundamental right to protest against desecration of their religious places. Even if it became necessary for the police to use the force to disperse the agitating mob, it should have used such force with utmost restraint. The NHRC enquiry team establishes that the police used excessive force’ gives us a sigh of relief.”
“With the NHRC ordering a compensation of Rs 15,000 (each) for the 12 victims, we are further convinced that the jury acknowledges that we have suffered violence and injustice. Though the hurt caused to the peaceful Christian community cannot be quantified I am happy that the NHRC pronounced that our Constitutional right to worship was threatened,” he continued. Archbishop Moras also called for action against the guilty policemen.
Being a multi-cultural and multi-religious country, the archbishop said, he hopes and prays that peace and harmony will prevail over religious fundamentalism.
“The police have an important role to play. Those instigating or subtly inducing violence and hatred between religious groups need to be dealt with heavily,” he added.
The archbishop concluded, stating: “I reiterate my appeal to the honorable jury of the NHRC to bring the culpable police personnel and those indirectly involved in the ‘excesses’ in Dakshina Kannada to further scrutiny and penalty. Stringent action against these police personnel will prevent ensure greater caution and provide for an ambience of peace.”