Armed officers on alert at Sacred Heart Cathedral as India seeks to avoid a repeat of terrorism
Police stand guard at the gate of Sacred Heart Cathedral in New Delhi after an administrative decision to provide security to churches in India’s capital following the terror attacks in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday. (Photo by Bijay Kumar Minj/ucanews.com)
Security has been beefed up at churches in Indian capital New Delhi after a series of suicide bombings killed more than 300 people in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday.
Armed police are guarding Sacred Heart Cathedral in the capital and asking churchgoers to pass through metal detectors. They also frisk visitors who enter the 88-year-old building.
Similar security measures have been put in place at most of the 200 churches in the city, police spokesperson Madhur Verma told media.
They have also deployed special vehicles carrying trained anti-terrorism personnel outside prominent churches, which are also under the surveillance of plainclothes police officers checking for suspicious movements, according to Verma.
The cathedral attracts thousands of people, including non-Christians, at Christmas and Easter when church officials inform police, who take care of crowd management, traffic regulations and security.
“Police provided security during Holy Week and they continue it. We believe it is a precautionary measure. It is good to be cautious,” said Father Savarimuthu Sankar, spokesman for Delhi Archdiocese.
The cathedral has provided police with complete assistance and requests visitors to cooperate with police to remain safe and secure, he said.
“We are here to give foolproof security to churches and people in the national capital. It’s our duty,” said a security official posted in front of the cathedral.
In western India’s Goa state, chief minister Pramod Sawant has asked police to provide security at churches. The former Portuguese colony houses about 200 churches, several dating back to the 16th century.
Sawant said he intends to speak to Archbishop Filipe Neri Ferrao of Goa and Daman.
Senior archdiocesan priest Father Victor Ferrao said that despite news reports about security, “we do not see any police security. Maybe they are still working on the modalities.”
Christian leader A.C. Michael, a former member of the Delhi Minorities Commission, said police providing security is a welcome step. “But it is impossible for police to provide security permanently. Some mechanism needs to be developed to safeguard the Church and its people,” he said.
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