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.
Some hours later, in a live program on TV-9, Sanal explained his findings and accused the Catholic Church of miracle mongering, as they were beating the big drum for the drippling Jesus statue with aggressive PR measures and by distributing photographs certifying the “miracle”. A heated debate began, in which the five church people, among them Fr. Augustine Palett, the priest of Our Lady of Velankanni church, and representatives of the Association of Concerned Catholics (AOCC) demanded that Sanal apologize. But he powerfully argued against them…
When they saw their hopes dashed to force Sanal to his knees and apologize, they publicly threatened to file a blasphemy case against him. Sanal pointed out that this would give him an excellent opportunity to support all his statements with evidence in a court of law, with the bishop of Mumbai in the witness box. Foaming with rage, the church people vowed to harass him by filing an array of cases against him in all Mumbai police stations. They did.
The Rationalist International website says he could “be arrested at any moment.” It’s jarring to see this kind of religious oppression happening even today in a supposedly free country like India.