The Maharashtra State Minorities Commission (MSMC), an organisation set up to safeguard the rights of minority groups, has been running without a vice-chairman for seven months now.
Drawing attention to the government’s failure in appointing a new official after the last vice-chairman’s term ended in June 2011, justice (retired) Michael Saldanha said the state has shortlisted candidates for the post. “It is atrocious to keep such a crucial post vacant,” he said.
Saldanha made these observations while releasing a report by the All India Secular Forum and The Catholic-Christian Secular Forum (CSF) on anti-Christian violence in the city on Wednesday. “This is something very serious because the institution is set up by the government under the Constitution to safeguard the rights and privileges of minorities,” he said.
The CSF report says there were at least 1,000 cases of anti-Christian violence across the country in 2011, with a large number of incidents in Karnataka.
Saldanha said while there was a 65%-70% decrease in the number of incidents of atrocities against minorities as a whole between 2008 and 2011, the number increased by 90% during the same period in Karnataka.
Another state that has seen large-scale violence against Christian groups is Orissa.
Referring to the two spates of anti-Christian violence in Orissa in December 2007 and August 2008, Saumya Uma, a consultant in gender and human rights, said, “The National People’s Tribunal report observed that the state did not prevent violence; it ignored destruction of evidence by the perpetrators of violence and dereliction of duty by police officials.”