Friday, 1 June 2012

Indian Rationalist accused of blasphemy, is the net closing?

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Further to the story we first reported in April, and updated last month, today we got a call from President of the Indian Rationalists, Sanal Edamaruku, informing us that Indian courts had turned down his application for "anticipatory bail". 

To recap Sanal has had a complaint lodged against him by the Catholic Church in India who accuse him of blasphemy for revealing that one of their "bleeding statue" miracles had a more mundane explanation – the “blood” apparently leaking from the body of Christ turned out to be sewage, as Sanal revealed on Indian TV. The Catholic Church have made a complaint of “deliberately hurting religious feelings” which carries severe penalties in India. Sanal is very keen to answer the Church's accusation in court, but he applied for this anticipatory bail to ensure he would not have to remain incarcerated if he was arrested, pending the start of court proceedings. Ironically his bail request was turned down because the court thought he would be in danger and jail would be safer. 

Sanal is a cool customer used to being attacked for his myth-busting (he famously went after Sai Baba) but he is worried. When we spoke earlier today he told us that the moment the court's decision came through he started getting calls from the police in Mumbai (he's in Delhi) telling him to report to the police station. Even though no formal warrant has been issued he is very vulnerable to being picked up at any time, and his lawyers are advising him to leave the country for a bit. We are inquiring on his behalf into the issues of getting him a visa and perhaps somewhere to stay. We'll keep you posted - in the meantime please spread the word, and if you are able please contribute to his defence fund.
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