Eleven arrested for burying man in church compound in Thane

Last week, the police had registered a criminal case against the members of the Our Lady of Mercy Church, after a 95-year-old man was buried in the church compound.
Parishioners said they had to bury the 95-year-old in the church compound owing to lack of burial space.(HT File)
Parishioners said they had to bury the 95-year-old in the church compound owing to lack of burial space.(HT File)
Published on Mar 27, 2019 03:49 PM IST
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Hindustan Times, Thane | ByYesha Kotak

Eleven members of a church in Thane were arrested on Tuesday for burying a body in a plot that is not marked as a cemetery. The members were released on bail later in the day.

Last week, the police had registered a criminal case against the members of the Our Lady of Mercy Church, after a 95-year-old man was buried in the church compound.

The church members said they were forced to bury the body in the compound, owing to the shortage of burial space in the existing cemeteries.

“On the pretext of recording our statement, the police called us to the police station and arrested us. There isn’t enough space for burial in Thane, and according to Roman Catholic traditions, burials happen close to the church. We had given a written letter to the civic body before conducting the burial,” said Melwyn Fernandes, secretary, Association of Concerned Catholics (AOCC), who .

The parishioners were later presented before judicial magistrate Rashmi Jha in the afternoon, who later released them on the bail amount of Rs 5,000 each. “Though the bail has been approved, we will have to prove the evidence in court later once we get a date for the hearing,” said Narsingh Sangam, who appeared for the parishioners

Apart from that section 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant) of the Indian penal code (IPC) and Section 35 (1)/133 (power to make rules prohibiting disposal of the dead except at places set apart) of the Maharashtra Police Act were also levied. “These people were found guilty of burying a dead body in a residential area, and the matter was brought to our notice by TMC. We will be filling a chargesheet against them soon,” said the investigating officer.

However, the parishioners said that they have demanding regularisation of church land for burial and also extra burial space for years now. “The population of Roman Catholic community in Thane has been increasing drastically, we are 5000 parishioners in Pokhran – 1 and 2, but no one is listening to our demand for burial ground since the last seven years. Also, if there were 1500 people in the funeral, why were only 11 of them arrested,” said Thomas Joseph, vice president of parish pastoral council, Our Lady of Mercy Church.

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