‘Desecrator’ a family man, want SIT probe: Goa Church

August 22, 2017 by  
Filed under India, newsletter-india

Panaji, August 22, 2017: The fact finding team led by Goa Archdiocese has recommended that a special investigation team be constituted under the supervision of either the high court of Bombay at Goa or the Supreme Court to “impartially investigate” the desecration cases and bring justice to all involved.

The team comprising members of the Council for Social Justice and Peace (CSJP) of the Archdiocese of Goa and Daman and the Centre of Study of Society and Secularism (CSSS) on Aug 21 released a 24-page report on the recent desecration of 50-odd crosses and gravestones in the state.

It alleged that the police conducted a “very lazy investigation” that was “also supported, backed and influenced politically”.

The police last month arrested 54-year-old Francis Pereira in connection with the spate of cases of desecration of religious structures witnessed in the state.

CSSS Director Irfan Engineer said the police made a scapegoat of Pereira following mounting pressure from citizens and civil society and Pereira’s confession is the only evidence that the police relied on.

It is difficult to believe that Pereira is the culprit or only culprit, Engineer said, explaining that they find that it is impossible for a single man of his stature to demolish so many gravestones made of stone. Engineer said there is no medical certificate to prove Pereira was not in his senses.

The team visited Pereira’s family in Curchorem.

CSJP Executive secretary Fr Savio Fernandes said that although a bachelor, Pereira was very much a family man, who supported his family and was in good relations with everyone.

“He is a family man and hard worker who also runs a taxi business and has a good relationship with his customers. This is the image that the family members have given,” Fernandes said, adding that the family were “surprised” when he was arrested and “find it difficult to believe the investigation”.

“He never destroyed the altar and statues in his home,” Fernandes said referring to a statement made by the Chief Minister last month that Pereira was radicalised during a stint in jail earlier and had destroyed religious images at his home after his release in 2003.

Fernandes said the report will be submitted to the police and various human right agencies, and a call will be taken later on whether to file a PIL or not.

The team also recommended that legal action be taken against hate speeches made at the Hindu conclave held in the state in June.

The report said that extreme right wing outfits in Goa have been spreading disharmony in the state, referring to the all-India Hindu conclave in Goa where Sadhvi Saraswati called for open violence against beef eaters.

“No action was taken by the state against her and others who spewed venom and hatred against Muslims and Christians and incited violence against them,” a summary of the report stated.

“That the social fabric of Goa is being demolished, and a government formed to uphold constitutional norms is twiddling its thumbs and defending this in the name of freedom of speech, is most condemnable,” Engineer said.

– times of india

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