Crosses vandalized, graves desecrated in Goa

(UCAN) At least 40 crosses were destroyed at a Catholic cemetery in the western Indian state of Goa, in a fresh wave of vandalism targeting symbols Christians hold dear.

The incidents of July 10 are “designed by vested interests to provoke communal discord and promote religious hatred,” Archbishop Felipe Neri Ferrao of Goa said in a statement.

Crosses and gravestones were vandalized at the Guardian Angel Church cemetery in Goa, where the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party heads the state government.

The incident follows the destruction of crosses on roads that began in June in the Catholic-strong hold area of south Goa, prompting many to suspect the vandalism as a plot to pitch local Christians against Hindus.

The archbishop has appealed to people of “all faiths to refrain from taking any retaliatory action or fanning the flame of religious hatred.”

Noting that the state has a tradition of “interreligious harmony and peace,” the archbishop urged people “to keep these sacred values at all cost.” He has asked the government to thoroughly investigate the incidents and “and bring the perpetrators to book.”

The latest damage of July 10 was the largest single act of destruction, with police claiming that some heavy machinery was used to destroy and even dig up graves. [More]