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Police inadequately investigate church attacks in Delhi, Catholics say

Little progress made one year after church burnings, desecrations

Ritu Sharma, New Delhi

Ritu Sharma, New Delhi

Updated: December 01, 2015 10:05 PM GMT
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Police inadequately investigate church attacks in Delhi, Catholics say
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Catholics are accusing police of being insincere in their investigations against ascertaining the cause for attacks on church buildings in the national capital.

"Nothing has been done until now by police and we know nothing will happen. We go ahead and pray for peace," said Jose Victoria, a parishioner of St. Sebastian Church in Dilshad Garden. The parish church in eastern New Delhi was burnt down on Nov. 30, 2014.

Father Anthony Francis told ucanews.com that police are not looking to see if Hindu hardliners were involved in burning the church. No one has been arrested in connection with this incident.

A series of similar incidents followed in the next two months.

A stone was thrown through a window of Our Lady of Fatima Church in Jasola while Mass was being celebrated Dec. 8. Police dismissed the incident as being caused by children playing in the street.

A minor fire broke out in a Nativity display at Resurrection church in Rohini on Jan. 5. Police say it was due to an electric short circuit, but church officials said it was an arson attempt. Police have yet to take any action.

A Marian grotto at Our Lady of Graces Church in Vikaspuri was vandalized Jan. 15. St. Aphonsa's Church was desecrated in South Delhi in February. Attackers wrecked the church gate, entered the sacristy, broke open the tabernacle and scattered the Eucharist.

"The overall approach of police has been very weak and does not seem to show any great commitment when it comes to probing these incidents," Father Savari Muthu, spokesman for the Delhi Archdiocese told ucanews.com.

Police were supposed to file a report within two months of the burning down of St. Sebastian Church but even after one year nothing has been revealed or anyone arrested, he said, adding that police have increased security around the churches after that incident.

The Hindu hard-line group Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh had earlier this month described the attack on churches and Christians as "petty crimes."

Since May 2014 when the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janta Party won a landslide in national elections, Christian leaders have complained of attacks on churches.

They see an attitude change among political leadership that shows genuine concern over attacks on the minority community because of its indifference and silence.

The party is widely seen as the political wing of Hindu groups such as the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh, which critics say are working to turn India into a Hindu theocratic nation.

According to the 2011 Census report, Christians constitute 130,000 in Delhi, which has a population of 17 million.

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