Reacting to the vandalization of about 100 crosses and plaques at a Christian cemetery in Curchorem in South Goa, Curtorim MLA Aleixo Reginaldo Lourenco speaking to IndiaScribes.com on phone said that the Parrikar-led government in Goa has failed to maintain law and order in the State of Goa.
“Parrikar is the Home Minister and the custodian of law and order in the State. While some members from Parrikar’s government and his allies are blaming the Congress for the desecration, and claim that they know who is behind the act, why don’t they go out and arrest them, Lourenco asked.
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According to a media statement by Curtorim MLA Aleixo Reginaldo Lourenco, the BJP in Goa is indirectly supporting criminal elements and particularly those from right wing groups – same like the ones who were involved in the Margao bomb blast case few years ago, try to create communal disharmony and coerce and threaten the minorities into submission. “I am of the opinion that similar extremist elements from these type of organizations are responsible for the vandalism,” said Lourenco, adding that according to the CM if others are involved, they should be arrested immediately. “The CM is also the Home Minister and the law and order of the state is his responsibility. The CM has failed in his job and I demand that the CM should either resign for his failure or hand over the Home Minister s post to someone very responsible and capable enough to handle the situation in Goa. I feel the Parrikar government or some elements in the Government are shielding the culprits and protecting them or even supporting them indirectly,” Lourenco told IndiaScribes.com in a telephonic interview.
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Lourenco squarely placed the blame on what he termed a “rightist organisation” from Ponda, which was also being investigated a few years ago for very similar attacks on crosses and cemeteries in different parts of Goa and a bomb blast at Margao near the Grace Church.
According to media reports, an estimated 100 crosses and and plaques have been vandalised at Curchorem’s Guardian Angel Cemetery in South Goa, The Hindu reported. Incidents of vandalism of religious structures, including crosses and a temple, have prompted the state police to seek public cooperation for leads.
In the last week alone, the tiny state has witnessed the desecration of 10 religious structures, Times of India reported. Most of these acts of vandalism have been reported in the Roman Catholic-dominated taluka of Salcete.
On Twitter, Smita Nair, a journalist with the The Indian Express said the state police are still counting the number of crosses vandalised at the cemetery in Churchorem and added that CCTV cameras at the site were found damaged.
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While the police have increased patrolling in most areas, an unidentified police official told The Times of India that monitoring Salcette was proving to be a challenge as there is a cross “every 100 metres and in some parts even after every 50 metres”. “We have got leads and are working on them,” an officer said.
Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar had earlier alleged that some people are trying to “create issues and raise tension in the state”. Parrikar has directed the state police to use Google Maps to identify a pattern, if any, in the vandal’s attacks. “We have increased technical surveillance and the process of analysing technical data is underway,” South Goa Superintendent of Police Chandan Chowdhary said.
The Congress has demanded a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into the series of acts of vandalism at religious places in the state.
Deputy Inspector General of Police Rupinder Kumar told IANS that the incident occurred at the Guardian Angel Catholic cemetery in Curchorem in south Goa, where a similar attack had occurred five years ago.
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“Policemen were posted outside the cemetery. When they heard sounds inside the cemetery, they went in to check. Several Catholic crosses, granite stone plaques and gravestones were damaged. A CCTV camera and an electric light pole also were damaged,” the police officer said.
Initially, officials at the Curchorem police station had estimated the number of damaged crosses, gravestones and plaques at more than 100.
Kumar said that careful inspection of the site revealed that more than 40 pieces have been damaged, and these include more than 20 Catholic crosses.
“We are working on some leads,” Kumar said.
State Congress President Shantaram Naik has demanded a CBI probe into the cemetery vanadalism.
“We are demanding a CBI probe into the serial desecration,” Naik said, adding that Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar’s government in the state has failed to rein in such vandalism and acts of desecration.
This is the fourth such incident since June, he said.
The Goa Police have already formed a special team to crack these cases. Parrikar has said the attacks were being carried out by people with vested interest to disturb the communal harmony in the state.
In 2012, around 50 gravestones and 100 graves at an adjoining Muslim graveyard were vandalised. The place is about 45 km from Panaji.
So far, police have failed to make any breakthrough in the nine desecration incidents, all from South Goa.