Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Sanal Edamaruku's situation worsens: still facing arrest over debunking of Catholic miracle

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Sanal Edamaruku at the Church of Our Lady
of Velankanni in Vile Parle, Mumbai, where crowds had
flocked in March to see an alleged miracle
Last month we started a petition in support of Sanal Edamaruku, the President of the Indian Rationalist Association facing charges of “deliberately hurting religious feelings" over his exposure of a supposed miracle at a Catholic church in Mumbai. Edamaruku pointed out on TV that the source of "holy water" dripping from a crucifix in the church was in fact a leaky pipe, and this prompted three local Catholic organisations with close connections to the Catholic Archdiocese of Bombay to file complaints against him with the police.

Having been denied "anticipatory bail", Edamaruku was at risk of being held in custody ahead of any trial, and was forced to avoid his home whole he filed for anticipatory bail with the High Court in Mumbai.

Unfortunately, the situation has now worsened – his appeal for anticipatory bail with the High Court has been tossed out again (the higher court insists it goes through the lower courts first), which means arrest will lead to certain imprisonment for an indeterminate period. In the last two days police have turned up at his home in Delhi twice with an arrest warrant. He is currently in Europe (at an undisclosed location) but is worried that the Indian authorities will insist he returns to India to face the charges.

All of which means it is essential that we keep up the pressure – our petition calls on the Catholic Archdiocese of Bombay to urge the local Catholic groups to drop the complaints against Edamaruku. This currently has 6,702 signatures from supporters of free speech around the world, but would benefit from many more.

Please take the time to sign the petition, and pass it on to anyone you think would be concerned about the misuse of India's hate speech laws to suppress scientific knowledge and reasonable criticism of religious mysticism.

Update: 4 July 2012, 4:10pm: Edamaruku has updated his website with details of the attempts to arrest him:
This morning, officers of the Delhi Police reached Sanal Edamaruku’s house to arrest him. They came upon directions of a Delhi court to execute an arrest warrant issued by a Mumbai Metropolitan Magistrate Court (second highest Criminal Court). If Sanal had been at home, he would be in jail now
The officers were informed that Sanal is presently out of Delhi and traveling. They insisted on details of his whereabouts, addresses and contact numbers. Some hours later, they came again to press for information, to no avail.

With this dramatic turn of events, Sanal Edamaruku’s persecution has reached a dangerous new level.
Read the full update on the Rationalist International website
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