FIR against rationalist for questioning ‘miracle’


MUMBAI MIRROR 17 APRIL 2012:
My Photo
Man files complaint against Sanal Edamaruku who dismissed water dripping from Jesus statue as due to capillary action, saying he had made statements against the Church

Mumbai was the birthplace of the Indian Rationalist Association (IRA), founded in 1930 by Mumbaikar R P Paranjpe. Almost a century later, it has also become the first city to have an FIR filed against the President of the IRA.

The FIR has been filed by another Mumbaikar, Agnelo Fernandes, President of the Maharashtra Christian Youth Forum.

CR 61/2012, Juhu Police Station, has been filed against miracle-buster Sanal Edamaruku, who is also founder-president of the Rationalist International, which has scientists such as Richard Dawkins in it.

The FIR has been filed under IPC Sec 295A: Deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs. The offence is cognizable and non-bailable.

The whole story began on March 5, when during a TV programme in Delhi, Sanal dismissed reports that the “dripping cross” outside Vile Parle’s Velankanni church was a miracle. TV-9 asked him to investigate and flew him down on March 10. Sanal visited the spot and took pictures.

Born to rationalist parents, Sanal has, for the last 30 years, travelled across the country demonstrating the science behind supposed miracles. He has exposed the man-made nature of the ‘divine flame’ at Sabarimala, and successfully challenged Hindu godmen on TV.

Later on March 10, Sanal attributed the water dripping from the Jesus statue to capillary action of underground water near the cross. His photographs, displayed on TV-9, showed seepage on the wall behind the cross and on the ground near its base. “I removed one of the stones covering a canal for dirty water nearby, and found that water had been blocked there. Once water is blocked, it will find an outlet, if not downwards, then upwards. Every student knows that trees get water through capillary action.’’

Sanal said that when he reached the spot, a priest was leading a prayer on the road near the cross; water from the cross had been collected in a bucket and was being distributed to those gathered there. He was given a photograph of the statue dripping water with the word ‘miracle’ written on it. He said he was not allowed to take a sample of the water for chemical analysis.

During the subsequent TV discussions in Delhi and Mumbai, Sanal accused the Catholic Church of “miracle mongering’’. Interestingly, in Mumbai, Archbishop Agnelo Gracias, who joined the discussion, categorically stated that the Church had not described the event as a miracle and would do so only after conducting investigations. The Archbishop also claimed that the Church was not anti-science and, in fact, it had established the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, of which Galileo had been a member.

At that point, Sanal pointed out that the Church had imprisoned Galileo, and burnt scientist Giordano Bruno at the stake, and Pope John Paul II had even apologised for it. He also asked the Archbishop what he had to say about the Vatican indulging in exorcism, to which the Archbishop replied that though he had not come across any case of “possession’’, he could not rule it out.

All through the discussion, the other panelists kept warning Sanal that they would file FIRs against him if he didn’t apologise for his allegations against the Church.

The discussion ended with Sanal declaring that the Church’s intolerance had resulted in the Dark Ages in Europe. “Don’t try to bring the Dark Ages to India,” he said.

Fernandes lodged a complaint against Sanal at Juhu Police Station on April 10. Another complaint was lodged at the MIDC Police Station. In his complaint, Fernandes states that statements made against the Church and the Pope by Sanal had hurt his religious feelings.

Sanal, who lives in Delhi, said, “The Indian Constitution enjoins me to develop scientific temper. Let them arrest me, I’m not going to stop doing my fundamental duty.’’

A Sanal Edamuruku Defence Committee has been convened by lawyer N D Pancholi. Meanwhile, Mumbai police have called him here for questioning

Immediate Release-Rationalist under threat of arrest for exposing the “miracle” #FOE


‘FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION UNDER ATTACK’

Sanal Edamaruku, well known rationalist,  under    threat  of arrest for exposing the  “miracle”

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.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.]

When  they saw Sanal  refused to bow to their demands, they  threatened to file a blasphemy case against him. And they did. On  (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, “www.rationalistinternational.net.”

Obama: Cover Birth Control; 8 Egyptian Women Win


The Obama administration said Jan. 20 that health insurance plans must cover contraceptives for women without charge, and it rejected a broad exemption sought by the Roman Catholic Church for insurance provided to employees of Catholic hospitals, colleges and charities, reported the New York Times. But the administration said it would give some employers affiliated with churches an extra year to comply, meaning that coverage would not begin for their employees until well after the 2012 elections.

Church leaders had personally appealed to Obama to grant the exemption, and he made the final decision on the issue after hearing all points of view, administration officials said

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