National

NHRC notice to Centre, Delhi govt. on church vandalism

The National Human Rights Commission on Tuesday issued notices to the Ministry of Home Affairs, Delhi Government and Delhi police seeking reports on the status of investigation into the vandalism of a church in South Delhi. According to an official statement from the NHRC, they have been given 10 days time to respond.

St. Alphonsa’s Church in south Delhi’s Vasant Kunj area was vandalised by unidentified persons on Monday, sparking outrage among the Christian community which said such acts were part of a “hate campaign.”

This is the fifth incident of its kind in the past two months leading up to the Assembly elections in Delhi later this week.

The Commission has sought the report taking suo motu cognisance of some media reports regarding the incident of breaking open the doors of St. Alphonsa’s Church and defiling of the place of worship and the objects held sacred, the statement said.

"The commission has observed that the intention of the offenders appears to be to insult a particular religion and...promote disharmony... the matter involves serious issues relating to violation of human rights and requires the intervention of the commission to ensure prompt investigation," it added.

The NHRC said it also received telephonic information from an advocate, Manoj V George, alleging that in spite of a formal written complaint by the church priest Vincent Salvatore, police was not taking necessary and appropriate action by registering a proper FIR and commencing investigation.

On Monday, a member of the commission, Justice Cyriac Joseph, had visited the church site to assess the situation. The commission's statement says Fr. Vincent told Mr Joseph that the miscreants had not taken money or any item if value from the church but that their act was to “desecrate the sanctity of the church and to create a sense of insecurity in the minds of religious minority”. Fr. Vincent also expressed the apprehension that there was an attempt to downplay the incident as a mere theft or a burglary.

The release adds however, that senior police officials present on the spot during the visit of the NHRC members denied reports that an FIR had already been registered showing the offence as theft or burglary.

Incidents of vandalism and suspected arson at Christian religious institutions have happened in Dilshad Garden, Rohini and Jasola areas of Delhi. NHRC had issued a notice to the Chief Secretary of Delhi last month as well seeking a report on attacks targeting churches in the national capital.

On Monday a petition was also filed with the Nation Commission for Minorities by lawyer Shehzad Poonawallah, alleging that there has been a systematic approach by the Sangh Parivar over the past few months to make minorities feel insecure.

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Printable version | Feb 29, 2020 10:12:13 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/nhrc-notice-to-centre-delhi-government/article6853237.ece

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