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Church seeks help to clear Bhopal cemetery

Action demanded after occupiers refuse to leave

Encroachment on the Church burial ground in the outskirts of Bhopal Encroachment on the Church burial ground in the outskirts of Bhopal
  • ucanews.com reporter, Bhopal
  • India
  • January 27, 2011
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Church officials in a central Indian archdiocese have asked the state government to remove people occupying a portion of their cemetery.

“We are unable to bury our dead as our cemetery is being occupied,” said Prakash Lakra, a Catholic lay leader in Bhopal archdiocese.

He plans legal action to get back almost 1 hectare of land the archdiocese has used as a burial ground on the outskirts of Bhopal, capital of Madhya Pradesh state.

Lakra said people began occupying the burial ground five years ago.

“We tried to stop them, but they never listened to us,” he lamented.

He accused the occupiers of acting on the instructions of local mafia.

Father Anand Muttungal, the Catholic Church spokesperson in the state, said government officials have promised to support the Church.

“I am confident the land will be restored to the Church,” he told ucanews.com.

The archdiocese also plans to take the matter up with the local collector, the highest government official in a district.

Meanwhile, the opposition Congress party says it will also support the Church.

“Even the resting place of the dead is no sacred,” said Jerry Paul, secretary of the party’s minority department.

On Jan. 22, Paul led a 15-member interfaith delegation to the local government official to demand the immediate removal of the occupiers.

He warned his party would create problems for the administration if failed to take action.

Some lay people, however blame the Church for the problem.

“Church authorities ignored the occupation initially and didn’t take adequate steps to fence the area off,” said one who did not want to be identified.


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