The Sanal Edamaruku Saga Continues


Hemant links to an article in Open magazine about Sanal Edamaruku, the Indian skeptic who has been exiled from his own country to avoid facing criminal charges for debunking a fake Catholic “miracle” shrine of an allegedly weeping Jesus (turns out it was a leaking water line). It’s easy to forget about people like this and the religiously-motivated brutality and oppression they face.

As promised, two FIRs were soon lodged against Edamaruku. They were both filed under Section 295A of the IPC—India’s blasphemy law, which punishes anyone who outrages a religion or the religious beliefs of another individual. It is a non-bailable offence and carries a maximum punishment of three years, plus a fine. A few years ago, an Andhra Pradesh author and translator with the pen name Krantikar was arrested under the same section for translating some of the works of Taslima Nasreen into Telugu. Another incident occurred late last year when, under the same section and Section 66(A) of the IT Act (related to sending offensive messages through a computer or communication device), two girls in Mumbai were held by the police for questioning the shutdown imposed during Bal Thackeray’s funeral.

According to Edamaruku, he started to receive threatening calls from a policeman in Mumbai on a daily basis.

These calls were always late in the night and from a mobile phone. He applied for two anticipatory bails—one in a lower court in Delhi and another in Mumbai’s High Court—but both were thrown out on technical grounds. During the Delhi court hearing, lawyers representing the Catholic groups argued that his case had to be tried in Mumbai. In Mumbai, the High Court decided that his case should first be heard in a lower court. Meanwhile, according to Edamaruku, friends in Mumbai closely connected with the Church and Catholic groups, told him there was talk of getting people to forcefully bring him to Mumbai to get him arrested. He was also afraid that a fanatic might try to murder him. Edamaruku went into hiding.

He spent the next month and a half living in student hostels and various friends’ homes. He stopped driving his car. While he was hiding in a post-graduate hostel, he would live in a room with the door latched from outside. When it became likely that he would soon be arrested, he flew to Helsinki in Finland.

Edamaruku has now spent over a year in Finland. “I have travelled to some of the most backward and rural areas of India to expose myths and superstitions. But I have never faced a situation like this. One would assume that people in Mumbai would be more sensible and tolerant,” he says on the phone from Helsinki. He says he wants to return to India but as the situation stands, he will get arrested without bail here.

The church in Mumbai, on the other hand, has refused to get involved. The archbishop of Mumbai issued a press statement last year, stating that the Cardinal was out of the country when the issue of the Irla cross surfaced and that he was in no way connected with the filing of the FIR. However, he did make an appeal. Not to the groups to withdraw the FIR, but to Edamaruku to issue an apology for his comments. After this, he suggested, the FIRs should be withdrawn.

Remember this whenever the Pope or any other Catholic official talks about their support for religious freedom. It’s a lie.

Comments

  1. Chiroptera says

    Edamaruku: One would assume that people in Mumbai would be more sensible and tolerant.

    My mind is boggled that he is being charged with blasphemy for simply stating an clearly demonstrable fact.

    Ed Brayton: Remember this whenever the Pope or any other Catholic official talks about their support for religious freedom. It’s a lie.

    It also clearly demonstrates that the Catholic heirarchy has no problem maintaining their influence through outright falsehoods.

  2. mikeym says

    It also clearly demonstrates that the Catholic heirarchy has no problem maintaining their influence through outright falsehoods.

    Outright falsehoods and the police power of the state.

  3. says

    The church in Mumbai, on the other hand, has refused to get involved. The archbishop of Mumbai issued a press statement last year, stating that the Cardinal was out of the country when the issue of the Irla cross surfaced and that he was in no way connected with the filing of the FIR. However, he did make an appeal…

    What monumental cowardice. They know they have no good reason to persecute Edamaruku, but they don’t have the guts to step up and say so.

    This is must one of the many failings of today’s Church that the canonization of JP-II is supposed to distract us from. The utter mediocrity of their latest “leader” is another — has Pope Francis said anything about this case?

  4. David Marjanović says

    The utter mediocrity of their latest “leader” is another — has Pope Francis said anything about this case?

    Does he even know about this case? Popes are so busy with bureaucracy that some have apparently died from the stress. They’re also burdened with time-consuming duties like holding a mass every day (every priest has to do that).

  5. some bastard on the net says

    What boggles my mind the most is that nobody is pushing one of these FIRs at the clergy of that church.

    This “weeping statue” thing supposedly went on for a while, and yet somehow none of the staffed priests (or even the janitor) noticed the leaking pipe? I doubt that very much.

    So why aren’t any members of the congregation angry at the clergy for taking advantage of their beliefs to funnel more money into the church coffers? Why are they more angry at the one person who pointed out that they were being fleeced?

    Why are so many people so fucking stupid?!

  6. says

    It also clearly demonstrates that the Catholic heirarchy has no problem maintaining their influence through outright falsehoods.

    Was that ever in doubt?

    Can I wrote his apology? It would go something like this: “I’m sorry that your superstitious claptrap cannot stand up to simple, demonstrable facts.”

  7. Draken says

    I have the impression that India is a gigantic religious powder keg and it respective governments are shitting glowing bricks at the thought that one false movement may have it explode.

    This may be a bit of bellyfeeling, but with other large countries like Russia or China, you can more or less see the country take one or the other direction as the governments change over time. India, on the other hand, seems to stay the same as the governments try to hold all the ropes together and not get assassinated before the next elections.

  8. escuerd says

    Synfandel:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Information_Report

    some bastard on the net:

    So why aren’t any members of the congregation angry at the clergy for taking advantage of their beliefs to funnel more money into the church coffers? Why are they more angry at the one person who pointed out that they were being fleeced?

    I would suspect that none of them have any actual interest in even examining whether the claim is true. Thou shalt not put the Lord, thy God, to the test, after all.

    From the article:

    The archbishop of Mumbai issued a press statement last year, stating that the Cardinal was out of the country when the issue of the Irla cross surfaced and that he was in no way connected with the filing of the FIR. However, he did make an appeal. Not to the groups to withdraw the FIR, but to Edamaruku to issue an apology for his comments. After this, he suggested, the FIRs should be withdrawn.

    This is disgusting. The complaint, apparently, is that he referred to these people as “miracle-mongers”, which, by all rights, seems accurate. Even if they were sincerely ignorant, though, it’s ridiculous to make this a punishable offense. Someone points out the truth, and the hierarchy’s response is to say, “Well, maybe if you apologize whoever filed the legal complaint (totally not related to us, of course) will reconsider them.

  9. says

    escuerd “Someone points out the truth, and the hierarchy’s response is to say, ‘Well, maybe if you apologize whoever filed the legal complaint (totally not related to us, of course) will reconsider them.'”
    Oh, come on! That’s straight from the Bible!*
     
    * “And He said, ‘If a man offendeth thee by pointing out that you’re promoting a fraud, then put the police on him. If he then apologizes, him having learned his lesson, leteth him free.'”

  10. markr1957 says

    One would assume that people in Mumbai would be more sensible and tolerant,” he says on the phone from Helsinki.

    Going on the response I got from an Indian businessman while I was working in Mumbai I saw little evidence of sensibility in the city. This person refused to accept that I worked on offshore oil rigs because “you can’t drill holes in the sea”.

  11. jnorris says

    The archbishop of Mumbai is a coward. I guess his livelihood and lifestyle depend too much on the rubes’ rupees.

  12. grumpyoldfart says

    Maybe the educated Catholics around the world could mount a protest and demand that the Pope get his Indian crew into line.

    Only joking, there’s not a Catholic anywhere who is game enough to save anyone (except themselves) from persecution. Hell most of them don’t even protest when the preacher’s fuck their own children!

  13. sunsangnim says

    “India’s blasphemy law, which punishes anyone who outrages a religion or the religious beliefs of another individual.”

    The blasphemy law itself offends my (non)religious beliefs. Therefore it is against this law to enforce this law.

  14. anubisprime says

    grumpyoldfart @ 13

    Hell most of them don’t even protest when the preacher’s fuck their own children!

    All the reports I have read about RCC abuse cases, it seems not one of them appear to be instigated by a parent of guardian of the abused, certainly extremely few but I am not aware of any TBH.

    Not many complaints from a congregational members either.
    But it is funny how when a priest is busted somehow everyone suspected irregularity!

    Over 20 yrs…I cannot recall one case or dismissal of a priest because mum or dad blew the whistle, not saying it never happened, but the vast majority are accusations directly from the abused after they are considered adult.
    And the vilification they get for mentioning it by the church and their legions is a class apart.

    But not one parent seemingly…nothing, nada, ziltch!

    That tells anyone all they really need to know about Catholic morality and how fuckin’ godly they are and just how fitting they actually are as a parent or guardian.

  15. says

    It’s “not” a Blasphemy Law. It’s a “Riles Up Religious Hatred” Law that can be applied like this. It was created to stop Hindu/Muslim violence rather than this. In fact? There are tonnes of “mythbusters” like Sanal. Some even more badass than him (They do demonstrations of Sanyasi Stunts and break up astrology scams). It’s just that Sanal pissed off a place which was hankering for a genuine miracle and that had Catholics across the world looking at it (There was absolutely no repercussions to the Ganesha drinking milk or Shiva turning the sea “sweet” which was just hysteria mixed in with sugar factory run off)

    Someone needs to get pissed off. Someone basically needs to get butthurt about it.

    You can file an atheist claim under the law…

    Ironically? India is a secular country.

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