Desecration of Goa’s religious structures to be probed

October 18th, 2008 - 11:59 pm ICT by IANS  

Panaji, Oct 18 (IANS) A special team headed by a superintendent of police would probe the increasing incidents of religious structures in Goa being desecrated, Chief Minister Digambar Kamat said Saturday.The state will also offer Rs.100,000 for credible information that helps nab the culprits.

Addressing the media, Kamat claimed that in the last few years, over 500 religious structures had been desecrated in South Goa alone. The southern district of Goa borders Karnataka’s northern region, where communal violence had recently flared up.

“There is a sustained effort to create communal tension in Goa. There is a pattern to the incidents which are happening,” said Kamat, adding that small temples and shrines in remote areas were being targeted by the miscreants.

The special team will probe all the incidents. “The team has been asked to shed all other responsibilities and focus their efforts on this case alone,” Kamat said.

The police have arrested one person from Gulbarga, Karnataka in connection with a desecration.

Reacting to a call given by the Bajrang Dal for a shut-down in Goa Monday, Kamat said that the police would give protection to those storekeepers who want to keep their premises open.

“No one will be allowed to force people to down their shutters. They cannot take law in their hands,” he said, imploring people not to give credence to rumours.

The chief minister also advised the media to exercise restraint, after a section of the media reported a statement made by a right-wing activist imploring all Hindus to ostracise those who do not support the shut-down Monday.

“There are forces which are trying to show that this government is anti-Hindu. They are trying to malign the government and are hurting the sentiments of the Hindus,” said Kamat.

Later at a press conference, Leader of Opposition Manohar Parrikar claimed that the Indian Mujahideen (IM) were behind the series of desecrations that were occurring in rural Goa.

Parrikar alleged that IM was trying to incite communal passion in the state.

A statement issued by Francisco Caldeira, director of the Diocesan Centre for Social Communications Media, Goa, claimed that this trend of desecration of Hindu temples was dangerous for the social fabric of Goa.

“While we condemn such acts of cowardice and vandalism against religious places, we express our unstinted solidarity with the aggrieved community and we appeal for peace to be maintained at all costs; and we call upon the authorities concerned to bring the culprits to book,” the statement said.

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