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Tuesday, April 17, 2012


Letter from ND Pancholi, convener, Sanal Edamaruku Defence Committee


‘FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION UNDER ATTACK’
Sanal Edamaruku, well known rationalist,  under threat  of arrest for exposing the  “miracle”

Dear friends,

On 10th March, Sanal Edamaruku, President of the Rationalist International,   flew to Mumbai. The TV channel TV-9 had invited him to investigate a “miracle” that caused local excitement. He went with the TV team to Irla in Vile Parle to inspect the crucifix standing there in front of the Church of Our Lady of Velankanni. This crucifix had become the centre of attraction for an ever growing crowd of believers coming from far and wide. The news of the miracle spread like wild fire. For some days, there were little droplets of water trickling from Jesus’ feet. Hundreds of people came every day to pray and collect some of the “holy water” in bottles and vessels.  Sanal Edamaruku identified the source of the water (a drainage near a washing room) and the mechanism how it reached Jesus feet (capillary action). The local church leaders, present during his investigation,  appeared to be  displeased.  See the investigation in detail on YouTube.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kUqhq9MuRG8

Some hours later, in a live program on TV-9, Sanal explained his findings and accused the concerned  Catholic Church officials  of miracle mongering, as they were beating the big drum for the drippling Jesus statue with aggressive PR measures and by distributing photographs certifying the “miracle”. A heated debate began, in which the five church people, among them Fr. Augustine Palett, the priest of Our Lady of Velankanni church, and representatives of the Association of Concerned Catholics (AOCC) demanded that Sanal apologize. But Sanal refused  and argued against them. [The whole TV program is recorded. You can watch an abridged version of it on YouTube.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TfJ6_ftih0s

When they saw  Sanal  refused to bow to their demands, they  threatened to file a blasphemy case against him. And they did.

Yesterday (10th April,2012)  Sanal received a phone call from a Police official  of Juhu Police Station in Mumbai directing him to come to the said police station to face the charges and get arrested. He also said that FIRs have also been filed in Andheri  and some other police stations u/s 295 of Indian Penal Code  on the allegations of hurting the religious sentiments of a particular community.  Mumbai police  has announced that they were out to arrest him.   It is apprehended  that  he  can be arrested any moment.

      The filing of FIRs by Mumbai police and threatening to arrest a well known rationalist who has been exposing miracles and superstitious beliefs  for more than  three decades is a serious attack on the freedom of expression. Clause (h) of Article 51-A of  Constitution of India states that : ‘It shall be the duty of every citizen of India to develop the scientific temper, humanism and spirit of inquiry and reform.’

      In exposing the said miracle, Sanal was performing his fundamental duty enshrined in our constitution.
It is distressing that the Mumbai police has chosen to harass and victimize him for doing his fundamental  duty.

      ‘Sanal Edamaruku Defence Committee’ appeals to all progressive individuals and  organizations  to protest and oppose the reprehensible steps of the Maharashtra police in filing FIRs against Sanal and stand behind him in solidarity for the cause of  scientific thinking and freedom of expression.

                                                                                                        N.D.Pancholi
     11 April, 2012                                                                     Convenor,
                                                                                                        Sanal Edamaruku Defence Committee
PS. Please have a look at www.rationalistinternational.net.

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