Bandra cemetery takeover by BMC: Bombay Catholic Sabha rebuts Shelar claims

“Being an advocate he is supposed to be well acquainted with law of the land,” Mr D'Souza said while rebutting Mr Shelar’s claim.

Staff ReporterUpdated: Sunday, January 08, 2023, 12:46 AM IST
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Ashish Shelar | FPJ

Mumbai: A tweet by local Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) member of the Legislative Assembly Ashish Shelar about the withdrawal of a notice about the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) taking possession of St. Peter’s Sea Side Cemetery on Kadeshwari Road in Bandra is “misleading” said Bombay Catholic Sabha president Dolphy D'Souza.

“Being an advocate he is supposed to be well acquainted with law of the land,” Mr D'Souza said while rebutting Mr Shelar’s claim.

Church was not served the withdrawal notice, rebuttal reveals

The rebuttal issued by D'Souza and Adv Godfrey Pimenta of Watchdog Foundation asks how an assistant municipal commissioner of H/West ward can withdraw what a senior officer, joint municipal commissioner (zone III), has done. It also points out that the withdrawal is actually about keeping things in abeyance. The release issued by Mr D'Souza also highlighted that the church was not served the withdrawal notice that was given to a local politician who waved it at a meeting held on Friday to protest the land acquisition notice. The Free Press Journal had in its report highlighted that the notice was being withdrawn by a junior officer.

"We wanted to correct the misleading information that is being spread. In government protocol, certain officers have the power to issue certain types of notices. A junior cannot withdraw what a senior has done. As such the notice of alleged withdrawal signed by assistant municipal commissioner is improper, unauthorized and not in consonance with the provisions of law. St. Peter's Church had not received till Saturday afternoon," said Mr D'Souza.

Fr. Frazer Mascarenhas, the parish priest of St. Peter's Church, confirmed that neither had he been handed the notice nor was it stuck on the walls of the cemetery till Saturday evening, as had been done in the case of the earlier notice.

Community members against the move

Community members said they would not give land. "We further demand that 18.3 mtrs (60 ft.) D.P. Road adjacent to both Christian and Jewish Cemeteries be fully developed as almost 50 per cent of D.P. Road is developed. The hutments still occupying the remaining 50 per cent of 18.3 mtrs ( 60 ft.) D.P Road be vacated and slum dwellers be rehabilitated by the corporation as it has PAP tenements in its possession," said the letter.

Ms Shelar chose not to comment on this development. "No comment! I m with community & will be! Supporting their demand & will do my best to achieve!" he said in an SMS reply to a question by The Free Press Journal.

Municipal Commissioner Iqbal Chahal did not respond till the time of publishing to queries as to why the church did not receive the notice while local politicians had it and how a junior officer can stay what a senior has done.

Members of different political parties had said that they were pursuing the matter with the BMC but only Mr Shelar's name found a mention.

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