Mangalore: A Mistaken Identity and Mistaken Action - Dr V S Acharya
Exclusive Interview by Florine Roche
Daijiworld Media Network - Mangalore
Mangalore, Sep 17: Being the Home Minister of Karnataka Dr V S Acharya has been facing the heat that comes with the coveted Chair of Home Ministry, the second most important portfolio in the government.
In the last 100 days of BJP rule it is the home ministry which has come under the scanner and scrutiny beginning with Padma Priya case that jolted the new government in the very first month.
The recent attacks on the Christian places of worship have further compounded the matter and the fact that he hails from undivided South Kanara District has certainly put him in a tight spot.
In an exclusive interview with FLORINE ROCHE of Daijiworld.com Dr Acharya tries to assuage the fears of the Christian Community and speaks about other related issues.
Q. Ever since you assumed office as Home Minister you have been facing many challenges….
A. It is most unfortunate that what happened last Sunday is not only least expected but also shocking. The root cause is the illegal conversion and publication of material by New Life, which was obnoxious and hurtful to Hindu sentiments. Instead of protesting against New Life, the mob has attacked the Christian places of worship. It was wrong on their part to do so.
Q. Are you saying that attack on the Monastery at Falnir was a mistaken identity to and justify the attack?
A. It was indeed a mistaken identity and mistaken action too and I am not justifying their actions. The attackers should not have gone to attack the places of worship. They should have given a complaint to appropriate authorities on these illegal conversions and hateful literature.
Q. But your government failed to respond in time which actually made Christians view your intentions with suspicion?
A. I do agree whatever happened on Sunday and the next day was equally bad. We were actually rushing to prevent any further damage. But the irate mob had started attacking the policemen resulting in law and order problem. Though I wanted to rush on Sunday itself, I could not come in the helicopter due to bad weather. But soon after coming here we ensured that things have greatly improved. People were convinced that the government was serious in punishing those who took law in their own hands.
Q. It is for the first time the peace loving Christians have taken to streets to protest against last Sunday’s incident?
A. It was natural for them to be enraged because of the desecration of the statue and attacks on places of worship when Sunday prayers were going on. But instead of going on a rampage they also should have exercised some restraint. Reaction to the action was also extreme.
Q. There has been a deluge of political leaders who are visiting Mangalore after the attack on places of worship and the subsequent violence?
A. Some people have taken advantage of this situation to bring some political pressure.
Q. How is the situation as on today? There are accusations that your government was lackadaisical in tackling the situation in Mangalore?
A. It is wrong to say that government has not done anything. On the contrary despite it being an emotive issue, we have succeeded in bringing the situation under control. In today’s meetings with the Bishop, priests and Christian leaders both in Mangalore and Udupi, some priests have acknowledged this fact and I am satisfied to some extent.
Q. What is the outcome of today’s meeting?
R. Catholics have promised us that they will ensure that a similar situation will not occur again. Our assurance to them has been that everybody will be dealt with equanimity. We will make sure that whoever takes low in their hands, will be punished and Chief Minister has instructed the authorities to take suitable action against such elements.
Q. Christians harbor a grouse that your government failed to condemn the attacks on the places of worship …..
A. We have categorically said from the very beginning and the Chief Minster has openly condemned these attacks without any reservations. At the same time the government has to see the root cause of the problem also. I agree initially we did not react because we wanted to come here and assess the situation personally. We are extremely sorry we could not come in time to avert the unfortunate incident of Monday.
Q. Does this not reflect the failure of the intelligence since the attack last Sunday was carried out simultaneously and required pre-plan?
A. An accident cannot be predicted and similarly such meetings are done clandestinely and cannot be equated as intelligence failure.
Q. The opposition is demanding a probe by sitting high court judge but your government has ruled it out. Why?
A. Judicial probe is ruled out because fortunately there has been no casualty or loss of life. The whole fracas was due to some people taking law in their hands and there has been over reaction which vitiated the problem further. The Cabinet will meet tomorrow to take stock of the situation. A Principal Secretary of the government will look into the problem and we will get assistance from other stream of the police i. e the Higher ups to probe the matter.
Q. What is your assurance to the people of this region who are pained and disappointed by repeated communal disturbances in this district?
A. We will not spare any one who violates law. For so many years in Mangalore people of all communities have been living peacefully and we want nothing but peace.
Q. Is it a co-incidence that the attack occurred on the last day of the BJP’s National convention being held in Bangalore …
A. I think we cannot deduce anything else from it other than terming it as a co-incidence. But now I am happy that the matter is resolved within 2-3 days. I am sorry that such an incident has happened during our government, which was nonetheless shocking for us. I condemn it whole-heartedly.
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