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“Protection of all Minorities is my Primary Concern,” says Governor

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By Gabriel Vaz, Daijiworld Media Network

BANGALORE, SEP 11:   Karnataka’s new Governor, H R Bharadhwaj, who had reassured all minority communities, especially Christians and Muslims, in the state of taking all steps to safeguard their interests soon after taking charge of Raj Bhavan, reiterated his commitment on Friday and made it clear that "protection of all minorities is my primary concern.’’

The Governor, who had told the Archbishop of Bangalore Rev Dr Bernard Moras during their first meeting after assuming charge that he was ``ready to walk barefoot, if necessary’’ to ensure full protection to minorities and had promised to ``do everything possible’’ to ensure that the minorities and their places of worship were unharmed, discarded protocol and personally drove down to the St Peter’s Pontifical Seminary at Malleshwaram in Bangalore to meet the Archbishop of Bangalore and all the other 10 Catholic Bishops of different dioceses in the state participating in the Karnataka Region Catholic Bishops’ Council (KRCBC).

The Governor’s private meeting with all the 11 Catholic Bishops representing the KRCBC lasting almost an hour assumes importance in the backdrop of the attack and vandalism on the Francis De Sales Church at Hebbagodi in Anekal taluk of Bangalore rural district, about 20 kms from the heart of the city, in the wee hours of Thursday morning.  The miscreants had damaged the statues of Jesus Christ and Mother Mary in the grotto in the church premises and had also smashed the glass window panes of the church.

`I have already discussed the incident with the Home Minister Dr V S Acharya and asked for a detailed report,’’ the Governor said indicating that he had also spoken to the Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa and requested him to personally meet him (Governor) after the conclusion of the ongoing session of the state legislature.

When a Bishop brought to the notice of the Governor the unease and hurt feelings of the Christian community at the Home Minister’s statement dismissing the incident as a "minor’’ attack and for blaming the media for blowing the incident out of proportion, the Governor shared the concern and felt it was "highly improper and unwarranted.’’

"It is not correct to treat incidents affecting the sentiments of people belonging to any religion merely because of the absence of loss of lives or serious damages to property. These kind of statements enrage the people and provoke needless trouble,’’ he said.

The incident, which came to light on Thursday morning when the parish priest Fr Aloysius saw the broken pieces of the statues of Jesus and Mary, had provoked widespread condemnation. The Congress and JD(S) opposition leaders had demanded a high-level inquiry by the Corps of Detectives  (COD) and immediate arrest of all culprits.

Unlike the series of attacks against Churches and different places of worship belonging to Catholics in Mangalore, Bangalore and other districts in September last year, when the Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa and the Home Minister Dr V S Acharya had not bothered to immediately react to the incidents, the chief minister promptly announced a COD probe into the latest attack against the Hebbagodi church on Thursday.

Recalling his long association with the Catholic church and Christian institutions, Bharadhwaj said many of his neighbours were Christians. "I have been associated with various church related activities. My wife and daughter also have a long association with christian institutions,’’ he said.

"I have been intimately associated with the activities of the Church. I am an admirer of the multi-faceted activities and contribution of the Christians,’’ he said.

While pointing out that his role was very limited, the Governor said he would do his best to ensure that the safety and security of all sections of society, especially minorities, was protected.  "We are not doing any favour to minorities by promising to ensure protection and safety of minorities as it is a constitutional duty. Secularism must be followed in its true spirit,’’ he said promising to keep the Centre informed about the developments.

The Governor made a special reference to last year’s series of attacks against Churches in Mangalore, Udupi, Bangalore and other districts. "I propose to visit all districts, especially the coastal districts. I will stay in Mangalore and Udupi districts for a couple of days for a personal assessment of the situation and to  reassure the people,’’ he added.



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