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NHRC notice to MHA, Delhi government, police on church attack

The National Human Rights Commission Tuesday issued notice to the Union Home Ministry, Delhi government and Delhi Police for a detailed report, including the status of investigation, into the ransacking-cum-theft in a Delhi church.

IANS| Updated: Feb 03, 2015, 16:47 PM IST

New Delhi: The National Human Rights Commission Tuesday issued notice to the Union Home Ministry, Delhi government and Delhi Police for a detailed report, including the status of investigation, into the ransacking-cum-theft in a Delhi church.

The NHRC issued notice to the secretary of the home ministry, chief secretary of Delhi government and the Delhi Police Commissioner to submit their reports on the allegations of desecration of the St Alphonsa's Church in south Delhi's Vasant Kunj in the early hours of Monday.

"Home ministry, Delhi government and the Delhi Police have been given ten days' time to respond," said a NHRC release.

The NHRC intervened in the matter after taking suo motu cognizance of media reports about the incident of breaking open the doors of the St. Alphonsa's Church and defiling of the place of worship and the objects held sacred, the release said.

The church's administration Monday claimed it did not seem to be just an incident of theft as this was the fifth case within nine weeks when a church in Delhi was targeted.

A few sacred items, including a ciborium (receptacle) and a monstrance kept inside a tabernacle, a cabinet made of wood and glass, were taken away.

The release said the NHRC also received a telephonic information from advocate Manoj V. George alleging that the police were not taking necessary and appropriate action.

"The commission has observed that the intention of the offenders appears to be to insult a particular religion and...promote disharmony... the matter involves serious issues relating to violation of human rights and requires the intervention of the commission to ensure prompt investigation," the release said.

Earlier, NHRC member Justice Cyriac Joseph accompanied by some officers visited the church Monday and met Fr. Vincent, the priest at the church. 

"Fr. Vincent explained to the NHRC team the nature and the extent of damage caused to the church. He said that the miscreants entered the church by breaking open the front main door. The tabernacle on the main altar directly below the main crucifix was opened and the Chalice and the Monstrance were removed from the tabernacle and the Holy Communion Hosts were thrown around the place," the release said.

Fr. Vincent informed the NHRC team that the adjacent room called the Sacristy in which vestments and clothing and valuable articles like Chalice were kept, was also ransacked, the release said.

"He alleged that the intention of the miscreants was not to commit theft or burglary, as neither the money kept in three offering boxes nor any valuable objects were taken away. The act was to desecrate the sanctity of the church and to create a sense of insecurity in the minds of religious minority," the release said. 

As per the release, Fr. Vincent also expressed the apprehension that there was an attempt to downplay the incident as mere a theft or a burglary.

However, the release added, the senior police officials present on the spot during the visit of the NHRC members denied the allegation and the reports that the FIR was registered showing the offence as theft or burglary. 

"The ACP (Assistant Commissioner of Police) assured that FIR would be registered on the basis of the written complaint dated and in the light of the statement recorded by the police from Fr. Vincent Salvatore. The police officer asserted that there was no inaction on the part of the police and the investigation would be conducted strictly and accordance with law," the release said.