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India

Eight arrested for desecrating cemetery in southern India

Church blames outsiders for fomenting discord between Christians and Hindus

Bijay Kumar Minj, New Delhi

Bijay Kumar Minj, New Delhi

Updated: October 22, 2020 12:05 PM GMT
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 Eight arrested for desecrating cemetery in southern India

One of some 4o tombs that vandals attacked in a southern Indian Catholic cemetery on Oct. 18 morning. (Photo: supplied) 

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Police in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu arrested eight people on Oct. 20 on charges of desecrating a Catholic cemetery in Palayamkottai Diocese.

Vandals, suspected to be Hindu activists, used crowbars to damage some 40 graves on Oct. 18 at Sacred Heart Church parish, Bishop Antonysamy Savarimuthu of Palayamkottai told UCA News.

The problem began two years ago, when some outsiders, backed by the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and allied Hindu groups, began to oppose the cemetery.

The parish bought approximately 7,560 square feet of land in 1982 from a Hindu community, who used it as a cremation ground. They still use a small plot beside the Christian cemetery separated by a compound wall, bishop Savarimuthu said.

“They said Christian burial grounds should not be near any temple. But local Hindus did not object to it,” the prelate said.

The bishop said the cemetery had been used without any incident for the last 37 years. “We don’t have issues with other faiths in the locality. Some people are trying to create problems,” he said.

Father Sundar K, secretary to the bishop, said the local police “had assured us of all help.”

“Luckily, we have support from all the political parties from both the ruling and opposition side who are ready to help us. They have assured us to sort out the problem soon,” the priest told UCA News.

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