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Goa Church: Parrikar and 2 other politicians manipulated desecration probe, Francis made scapegoat, real culprits still free

PANAJI: According to a Times of India report, the fact finding team comprising members of the Archdiocese of Goa and Daman’s social work wing — the Council for Social Justice and Peace (CSJP) and the Centre of Study of Society and Secularism (CSSS) — in its report released on Monday has recommended that a special investigation team be constituted under the supervision of either the high court of Bombay at Goa or the Supreme Court to “impartially investigate” the desecration cases and bring justice to all involved. The report has alleged that the police conducted a “very lazy investigation” that was “also supported, backed and influenced politically”.

Director of CSSS Irfan Engineer alleged that investigation by police stopped because of political influence, he alleged. “The police didn’t dig deeper because immediately the CM of Goa declared they have found the accused. It’s not the business of the CM to declare somebody guilty even before the man has been charge-sheeted and put on trial by a court. Taking the hint, the police stopped their investigation,” he reporters on Monday.

The police made a scapegoat of Francis Pereira following mounting pressure from citizens and civil society, he said, adding that Pereira’s confession is the only evidence that the police relied on.

The team visited Francis Pereira’s family in Curchorem. Pereira was arrested last month in connection with the spate of cases of desecration of religious structures witnessed in the state. Executive secretary of council for social justice and peace, Fr Savio Fernandes, said that although a bachelor, Pereira was very much a family man, who supported his family and was in good relations with everyone. “He never destroyed the altar and statues in his home,” Fernandes said, denying Parrikar and the Goa Police’s claims that Francis destroyed religious statues at his home as soon as he was released from prison after being influenced by the Israelis.

“He is a family man and hard worker who also runs a taxi business and has a good relationship with his customers. This is the image that the family members have given,” Executive secretary of Council for Social Justice and Peace (CSJP), Fr Savio Fernandes, said, adding that the family were “surprised” when he was arrested and “find it difficult to believe the investigation”.

It is difficult to believe that Pereira is the culprit or only culprit, director of Centre of Study of Society and Secularism (CSSS), Irfan Engineer, said, explaining that they find that it is impossible for a single man of his stature to demolish so many gravestones made of stone. Engineer said there is no medical certificate to prove Pereira was not in his senses.

Fernandes, said the report will be submitted to the police and various human right agencies, and a call will be taken later on whether to file a PIL or not.

The team that released its 24-page, fact-finding report on the desecration of 50-odd crosses and gravestones in the state last month, has also recommended that legal action be taken under Section 153A and Section 295A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) against hate speeches made at the Hindu conclave held in the state in June.

The report said that extreme right wing outfits in Goa have been spreading disharmony in the state, referring to the all-India Hindu conclave in Goa where Sadhvi Saraswati called for open violence against beef eaters.

“No action was taken by the state against her and others who spewed venom and hatred against Muslims and Christians and incited violence against them,” a summary of the report stated.

“That the social fabric of Goa is being demolished, and a government formed to uphold constitutional norms is twiddling its thumbs and defending this in the name of freedom of speech, is most condemnable,” Engineer said.

SOURCE: TIMES OF INDIA

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