Delhi church claims desecration, police say case of burglary

  • HT Correspondent and agencies, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Feb 02, 2015 18:38 IST

A Catholic church in south Delhi's Vasant Kunj area was vandalised on Monday, the fifth such incident since December, though police insisted that the latest occurrence was a burglary.

The home ministry has asked Delhi Police for a report on the status of security at religious places after the said church was allegedly vandalised.

According to reports, unidentified persons jumped over the wall of St Alphonsa's Church, entered the premises and broke open the main gate at around 3am.

They ransacked cupboards and threw prayer items on the floor, reports added.

This was the fifth such incident involving a church in Delhi in recent months and came just days ahead of elections to the Delhi Assembly on February 7.

A senior police officer who visited the site said the crime came to light when the parish priest reached the church and saw the main door broken down. The police control room was immediately informed and a team led by the head of Vasant Kunj police station rushed to the spot.

"The church was not vandalised. It is a case of burglary and we have registered an FIR. Efforts are on to nab the culprits," the senior officer said.

Police scanned footage from CCTVs installed in lanes adjoining the church to identify possible suspects.

The attack on St Alphonsa church comes just a few days ahead of Delhi elections. (Sonu Mehta/HT Photo)

The church's priest, Father Vincent Salvatore, claimed it wasn’t a case of robbery.

"It is a clear case of desecration of the church…It happened in St Sebastian's Church in Dilshad Garden, then in Vikaspuri and in Jasola. This is the fifth church," he said.

The church is named after Saint Alphonsa, the first person of Indian origin to be canonised by the Vatican in 2008.

A member of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) also visited the church today.

"Justice Cyriac Joseph visited the church site to take stock of the situation," an NHRC official said.

Asked whether the commission will be taking any action in connection with the matter, Joseph said, "Police is doing its job. It's for them to take action. Our role comes into play only if they are unable to do the needful."

Other Christian groups too urged police not to treat it as a case of burglary. "This is a clear case of desecration and goes much beyond theft…Police shouldn't treat it merely as a case of theft," said John Dayal, spokesperson for the United Christian Forum for Human Rights.

Another Catholic church was vandalised by two unidentified men in west Delhi's Vikaspuri on January 14, weeks after the home ministry directed Delhi Police to install CCTV cameras inside and around all religious places.

On January 3, the Christmas Crib at Rohini's Church of Resurrection was mysteriously burnt. The windows of Our Lady of Fatima Forane Church in Okhla were broken during evening mass on December 7 last year by unidentified persons.

Police were ordered to beef up security outside all religious places after St Sebastian's Catholic Church in Dilshad Garden was allegedly burnt down days before Christmas last year.

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