The Crime of Debunking in Delhi, India

Rationalist International president Sanal Edamaruku of Delhi, India is now a fugitive from the law for daring to expose a ‘miracle’ of the local Catholic church.

On 10 March, Sanal Edamaruku flew to Mumbai where a local TV channel 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. For some days, there were little droplets of water trickling from Jesus’ feet. The news of the miracle spread like wild fire. Hundreds of people came every day to pray and collect some of the “holy water” in bottles and vessels.

But within minutes of arrival, Sanal Edamaruku quickly and clearly identified the source of the water (a drainage near a washing room) and the mechanism how it reached Jesus’ feet via capillary action.

Some hours later, in a live program on TV with five local Catholic officials, Sanal explained his findings and accused the Catholic Church of miracle mongering. A heated debate began and the church officials demanded that Sanal apologize.  Instead, Sanal demanded that the church authorities apologize for irresponsibly distributing dirty drainage water dripping from the cross to hundreds of gullible people and claiming that it had ‘curative’ properties.  Undaunted, the church officials then threatened to file a blasphemy case against Sanal.

On 11 April, blasphemy complaints under Section 295 A, Indian Penal Code, were filed against Sanal Edamaruku with at least three Mumbai police stations.  The local police then began seeking to arrest Sanal.  But the complaints were apparently not written down and sent to Delhi, as would be standard procedure; nor was Sanal served with any summons or any copy of the complaints.

On 4 July, after Sanal had left the country on a long-scheduled tour, police arrived at Sanal’s house to execute an arrest warrant issued by the Mumbai Metropolitan Magistrate (criminal) Court for the Section 295A penal complaint.  His return to his home in Delhi now will most likely lead to his immediate arrest.

AAI condemns all kinds of religious oppression of reason and logical thinking, and encourages its members and fellow atheists worldwide to help Sanal by signing the petition created by the Rationalist Association UK.