Mumbai: Christians protest against vandalism, encroachment of cemetery

Mumbai: Christians protest against vandalism, encroachment of cemetery

At Orlem, hundreds from the community gathered, lit candles, offered prayers and a rosary seeking a speedy investigation.

FPJ News ServiceUpdated: Saturday, February 25, 2023, 12:10 AM IST
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Members of the Christian community on Thursday held two protests. One at the grotto in Malad that was vandalised by a miscreant on Thursday and the other at the L-Ward office in Kurla against the encroachments at the Christian cemetery in the Jari Mari area.

At Orlem, hundreds from the community gathered, lit candles, offered prayers and a rosary seeking a speedy investigation and that the motive behind the attacks is ascertained. The protests were held after two instances of vandalism in recent months upset the community.

“We are in the season of lent and it comes to transform us; change our mindset. We prayed that there be transformation and acceptance of love, forgiveness and also justice. No action was taken even the last time when there were robberies too,” Fr Michael Pinto, parish priest of the Church of Our Lady of Lourdes (Orlem) said, adding that it is essential to catch the culprit and also to ascertain the motive behind these attacks or else they will continue.

Meanwhile, parishioners who had gathered to show solidarity hoped the police would take strong action. “What is happening is wrong. Someone directly attacking a religious structure is very sad. Earlier it happened at Mahim. The police should find the culprit,” community member Leon Gomes said.

Dolphy D'Souza of Bombay Catholic Sabha which organised the protest reiterated that they haven't heard anything about the attacks at St Michael and want the police to ascertain the motive.

In the case of the Christian cemetery in Kurla, members protested to remove the encroachments. “It is a Protestant community cemetery but since it is a Christian community issue, we protested too,” said Godfrey Pimenta of Watchdog Foundation.

The community said that despite many reminders, no action is taken for the cemetery which is functioning and has been around since 1966. There have been several encroachments over the years. We even met the assistant municipal commissioner today and two members shaved their heads in protest,” Watchdog member Nicholas Almeida said.

Mahadev Shinde, Assistant Municipal Commissioner of L Ward (Kurla) acknowledged that the group had come to meet him. “There is a dustbin that is causing a hurdle. The encroachments are old and the matter is in court. My staff will visit the spot with them on Monday and try to resolve the issue,” he said.

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