Sanal Edamaruku under attack for exposing Jesus "miracle"
#1
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Quote: On 10th March, Sanal Edamaruku 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. Irla was about to become a pilgrimage centre.
But Sanal Edamaruku spoilt this prospect. Within minutes, he clearly 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, were far from pleased. See the investigation in detail on YouTube.

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. Source

My thoughts:
Religion always masquerades concern for its adherents and preaches "tolerance" by its minions towards those of other or no faith. I have recently come to appreciate exactly how condescending it is to be "tolerated" by another religion: It is a clear statement that you are not their equal from an idealogical stand point, but nevertheless they are deigned to accept you (grudgingly or not) because their faith dictates them to do so.

Another issue that I've reconciled with is that science and religion can never co-exist. That is to say, religion can never use critical thinking, evidence and peer-review to justify and validate their claims. Also, the tenets of religion: blind faith, hearsay, unverifiable documentation and dogmatic adherence can never hope to found the cornerstones of scientific thinking. Religion, at the time of the Dark Ages used the limited information as best as possible to give answers to death, disease and the Universe. Now in the age of Android phones and sterile hospitals, how does religion still play a role in fulfilling the above criteria? It doesn't. We live in an age where we are taught to be cynical and rationalistic and appreciate and value our troves of knowledge and be wary of shamans, voodoo, magic and miracles. We are immersed in the ways of Occam's Razor and David Hume and we ask ourselves: "In the event of a purported "miracle", which is more statistically likely? That the very fabric of nature is warped and the laws of physics violated just for you or perhaps that there is a simpler and more satisfying explanation behind it?". More importantly, if a "miracle" is proven otherwise, how will the religious right counter the claim? By threatening to take you to court for offending believers. Scared


EDIT: Sanal has sent an e-mail to Prof. Richard Dawkins at the RDF website (14 April 2012) requesting Richard's "moral support in our fight" and also to "join the "Sanal Edamaruku Defence Committee" Source
"It's alright, I rarely meet anyone who's able to read it properly. Although personally, I never thought that it to be an odd of a name. Once I give people the pronunciation, they tend to remember my name by easily associating me with it. A unique face, a unique moniker."
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#2
We can use this thread to compile statements of forum and community members speaking out against such religiously motivated persecution and in solidarity for Indian rationalists. Please read the above post for background. A vigorous discussion has been underway in the Facebook groups for a couple of days now. Once a sufficient number of statements is available, they can possibly published in a more visible setting. This is an open call to members to leave their statements here in around 200-300 words each.

Some pointers
- Debunking as a social necessity in India
- Article 51a and other constitutional/legal positions
- Inapplicability of the 'harm principle' (Blasphemy is a victimless crime!)
- We are 'equal opportunity offenders'
- The PILs are a form of vexatious litigation, with little intent on getting legal judgment and used more as a tool of intimidation.- Exposing legal fraud involving financial benefit via tithes and monetary offering.
- If this is about minority rights, then freethinkers are an even smaller minority!

Please post promptly so that the posting is timely.
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#3
(14-Apr-2012, 06:57 PM)nick87 Wrote:
Quote:
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. Source


EDIT: Sanal has sent an e-mail to Prof. Richard Dawkins at the RDF website (14 April 2012) requesting Richard's "moral support in our fight" and also to "join the "Sanal Edamaruku Defence Committee" Source

This is clearly a blatant attack on the freedom of expression, that too by a state that is supposedly the constitutionally enshrined guardian of these acts of freedom.

The State or the administrative machinery is guilty of worse things. 'Hurting Religious sentiments' is a term that can be taken to mean anything and it does not take much to hurt anybody's religious sentiments, so flimsy and tenuous that these are. Religious sensitivities bred by ignorance and superstition hang on such slender threads of tolerance, that its followers will cry foul at any public exposure of their pet notions.

The State's interpretation of the voilation of right to practise religion is beyond farcical. There are political factors at play in the machinations of the Mumbai police actions.

But setting all that aside, the actions threatened against Sanal are a clear case of persecution and unacceptable in a democratic system. We cannot call ourselves a democracy and yet have this state sponsorship of draconian actions against activists like Sanal Edamaruku who are enablers of affirmative social activism and reform.

Doubtless the need of the hour is to galvanize public opinion to stop Mumbai Police and its misguided political masters right now on their tracks




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#4
The Juhu police have registered an FIR against president of the Indian Rationalist Association (IRA) Sanal Edamaruku under Section 295 (defiling place of worship with intent to insult the religion of any class) of the Indian Penal Code.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/...681927.cms

IPC Section 295
http://www.vakilno1.com/bareacts/indianp...e/S295.htm
"Whoever destroys, damages or defiles any place of worship, or any object held sacred by any class of persons with the intention of thereby insulting the religion of any class of persons or with the knowledge that any class of persons is likely to consider such destruction, damage or defilement as a insult to their religion, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both."

It would set a dangerous precedent, because if any skeptic ventures onto religious property to disprove a miracle, he/she could be harassed under IPC 295.

I suggest we contribute to Sanal's Defence fund to show our solidarity.
http://www.rationalistinternational.net/defence_fund/
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#5
Contributed a small amount to the fund today. Hope it goes a little way in helping him and in bringing attention to his situation.
"It's alright, I rarely meet anyone who's able to read it properly. Although personally, I never thought that it to be an odd of a name. Once I give people the pronunciation, they tend to remember my name by easily associating me with it. A unique face, a unique moniker."
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#6
(16-Apr-2012, 06:03 AM)neo_theone184 Wrote: It would set a dangerous precedent, because if any skeptic ventures onto religious property to disprove a miracle, he/she could be harassed under IPC 295.

I suggest we contribute to Sanal's Defence fund to show our solidarity.
http://www.rationalistinternational.net/defence_fund/

Is section 295 the new section 377 ( which was used to harass same-sex couples)? It is frustrating how our inconsiderate and callous police force has been accoutered with all these sections of the IPC which they use to persecute and prosecute their hapless victims.
The other day, I was discussing this matter with one of my friends from the US. She exclaimed " you have blasphemy laws in India? That is strange...I thought India was different". I had never looked at the situation that way. These set of laws are in fact very similar to those 'blasphemy laws' the Indian media likes to rant against. Very sad.
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#7
Blasphemy law in India (IPC 295A): Protecting or silencing?




"It's alright, I rarely meet anyone who's able to read it properly. Although personally, I never thought that it to be an odd of a name. Once I give people the pronunciation, they tend to remember my name by easily associating me with it. A unique face, a unique moniker."
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#8
As I said once before - India has become one big religious sentiment waiting to get hurt.

What is the definition of an insult here? Is atheism illegal in India then? If e.g. Hindus do not believe in the immaculate conception, is that an insult to Christianity? Or if Christianity does not like the caste system, is it offending the beliefs of Hindus? where does this rubbish stop?

For me it throws up some questions -

If a religion is allowed the freedom to propagate its faith, do atheists have the right to propagate non-faith? If not any rationalist association will become just a self-serving group where they will preach to a different sort of converted. If a believer comes to such a group's meeting can he take them to court for hurting his sentiments? If I believe that a footpath is sacred and worship footpaths can I take the local municipal corporation to court if they dig them up on the grounds that they have defiled them. How many people need to believe in something to make it a valid belief? Can a secular state officially recognize any religion? If tribals worship forests and hills does that count?

Did he destroy, damage or defile anything? Will the police arrest the people who said this was a miracle if it were proved that this was capillary action on the grounds of misleading people?

We are rapidly becoming an illiberal society and headed to the dark ages. We seem to tolerate hunger, abject poverty, illiteracy, infant mortality, etc but get offended on some primitive beliefs.
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#9
Made a contribution to the defence fund as well today.

Srivathsa
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#10
Narendra Nayak, President, FIRA has posted the following article on Nirmukta detailing a number of case studies in recent years where rationalists have faced persecution for calling out religious superstition for what it is:

We and Section 295A of the IPC

An excerpt:
Quote:Laws like Section 295A have no place in a civilized society and need to be consigned with many of such to the trash bins of history. Finally after mulling over the legal issues and the secular aspects of the law, a philosophical question needs to be addressed - why does an omnipotent deity need the services of a mundane law made by puny human beings to set right alleged infractions of divine laws made by a higher force? This is for the religious whose feelings are ‘offended’ to answer!

It was heartening to see the outpouring of solidarity for beleaguered fellow-rationalists, both by those who have posted here and elsewhere on Facebook, and we hope that our opinions and numbers can be impactfully mobilized during upcoming challenges.
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#11
Okay, so I need clarification. The initial reports about this incident clearly said that the Church filed an FIR not because of the 'miracle' debunking, but because of Sanal's comments about the Pope and the Catholic Church.

By no way is that a crime either. But what I want to know is, aren't we addressing the wrong issue?

Or maybe I read the initial articles wrong, but to the best of my knowledge, the church is mad about statements against the Pope and NOT the holy sewage water.
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#12
You make a valid point Truth, but at this juncture it's po-tay-to, po-tat-o. Sanal accused the Church of miracle mongering (and essentially exploiting the situation to their benefit). He interfered with his investigation before this local church could ramp up PR support to make the place a pilgrimage spot.
One should have freedom of expression to voice their opinion. It is quite silly and unfair to provide a single person immunity from criticism because he happens to be the leader of a religious group.
Also, even if they had filed a case against him for speaking the truth about the "miracle", it gives Sanal a platform to clearly put his points forward before a judge.

And like you said yourself. "By no way is that a crime either." Yes

Interview with Sanal here
"It's alright, I rarely meet anyone who's able to read it properly. Although personally, I never thought that it to be an odd of a name. Once I give people the pronunciation, they tend to remember my name by easily associating me with it. A unique face, a unique moniker."
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