NHRC issues notices to MHA, Delhi govt over attacks on churches

NEW DELHI: The National Human Rights Commission on Tuesday issued notices to the Union Home Ministry secretary, chief secretary of the government of NCT of Delhi and the Delhi police commissioner and called for detailed reports, including the status of investigation, into allegations of desecration of the St Alphonsa''s Church in Vasant Kunj.

uttara@tribuneindia.com

New Delhi, February 3

The National Human Rights Commission on Tuesday issued notices to the Union Home Ministry secretary, chief secretary of the government of NCT of Delhi and the Delhi police commissioner and called for detailed reports, including the status of investigation, into allegations of desecration of the St Alphonsa's Church in Vasant Kunj.

They have been given ten days to respond.

The Commission took suo motu cognizance of electronic media reports regarding the incident. The commission also received telephonic information from Manoj V George, an advocate who alleged that the police have yet to register an FIR in the case despite a formal written complaint by Fr Vincent Salvatore, a parish priest.

The church's administration on Monday claimed that the incident, being the fifth such instance in Delhi, cannot be dismissed as a case of theft.

A few sacred items, including a ciborium (receptacle) and a monstrance kept inside a tabernacle, a cabinet made of wood and glass, were taken away.

The release said the NHRC also received a telephonic information from advocate Manoj V. George alleging that the police were not taking necessary and appropriate action.

"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," the release said. NHRC member Justice Cyriac Joseph, accompanied by some officers, had visited the church on Monday. 

In his statement, Fr Vincent told the police the culprits entered the church by breaking open the front main door.  The tabernacle on the main altar directly below the main crucifix was opened and the Chalice and the Monstrance were removed from the tabernacle and the Holy Communion Hosts were thrown around the place. 

The adjacent room called the Sacristy in which vestments /clothing and valuable articles like Chalice were kept was ransacked.

He alleged that the intention of the culprits was not to commit theft or burglary, since neither the money kept in three offering boxes nor any valuable objects were missing, but to desecrate the sanctity of the Church and to create a sense of insecurity in the minds of religious minority. 

He also expressed the apprehension that there was an attempt to downplay the incident as merely a theft or a burglary.

However, the release added, the senior police officials present on the spot during the visit of the NHRC members denied the allegation and dismissed reports that the FIR was registered showing the offence as theft or burglary.

"The ACP (Assistant Commissioner of Police) assured (them) that FIR would be registered on the basis of the written complaint dated and in the light of the statement recorded by the police from Fr. Vincent Salvatore. The police officer asserted that there was no inaction on the part of the police and the investigation would be conducted strictly and accordance with law," the release said.—ANI

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