Gujarat: Vandalisation of cemetry – aiccc demands Modi’s resignation
Gujarat, January 31, 2012: The Gujarat chapter of the All India Christian Council has called for the resignation of Gujarat chief minister, Narendra Modi for failing to protect Christians in the state, even as a heritage cemetry was desecrated by so-called ‘vandal’, suspected to be Hindutva fanatics. “Law and order had collapsed in the state where even the dead and burial places are not safe in Narendra Modi’s Gujarat and Christians in Gujarat seem to be next after the Muslims here”, said Samson Christian, an All India Christian Council leader, who visited the scene. He also demanded the suspension of Sabarmati police station inspector, Mr. S.D. Patel who direlection and failure in discharging his constitutional duties, especially since this is a communally sensitive state.
The Christian burial ground in Sabarmati, for all denominations, dates back to the British era, which was partly razed by bulldozers, resulting in a number of graves, being vandalised, especially those situated close to D Cabin Road in the city. According to Martin Hector Harris of the Sion Methodist Church in Dharamnagar, ” the Railways gave us this burial ground, prior to 1947 and seven churches of Ahmedabad belonging to the Methodist, Church of North India, Catholic and Pentecostal groups have been using it as a cemetery since then”. He added that minorities were not safe and felt insecure in Gujarat and such instances of disregard for minorities’ religious sentiments were ongoing issues, of which serious note must be taken immediately.
Samson Christian said that “the Christians had been taking care of the plot for decades and the final rites and prayer services have been conducted there. On Thursday (26 January, 2012), at around 7 pm, some men came here with a bulldozer and several trucks. They flattened the graves under the pretext of cleaning the area”. He vehemently condemned the incident pointing out that the responsibility lay with the local right-wing BJP councillor (elected representative) Mrs. Chanchalben Parmar and her husband, besides officials, who’s moral duty it was to ensure protection for all believers and places of worship.
Martin Harris, who with a large number of Christians, were alerted by the locals and rushed to the spot said “When we reached the spot, we found that the flattened area was already being used as parking space for their vehicles, those attending a function nearby” He said that it seems the miscreants had piled mud from the cemetery on the footpath nearby and also dumped concrete blocks from the broken tombstones on a plot behind the burial ground.
The All India Christian Council’s Sabarmati ward president Vasant Christian (69) filed a complaint with the local Sabarmati police, blaming ‘anti-social elements’ of bulldozing and ransacking the burial ground and hurting Christian religious sentiments. He suspected that the culprits were Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) workers. However, the Assistant Health Officer Bharat Borad said, “We do not clean up religious places, burial grounds or private plots. I am not aware of any such operation by the AMC. This definitely a private job”.
Due to the inaction by the Sabarmati police sation, Vasant Christian was compelled to file a fresh police complaint today (31 January, 2012) at the same police station, under section 154 of the Criminal Procedure Code and send copied to higher police officials in the state for immediate results. Sabarmati Inspector S. D. Patel said, “We have filed a complaint and taken photographs of the spot. We are taking down statements of locals.” The fact is that many days after the incident, none of the culprits are even identified, let aside arrested.
In view of the seriousness of the crime and to make a public display that Christian religious sentiments are being hurt, with the authorities taking no action, the All India Christian Council has organized a huge Dharna (demonstration) in front of the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation Central Office at Khamash (Danapidh) Ahmedabad on 1 February 2012 during 3.00 to 5.00 pm, which will be attended by Christians of all denominations.