Delhi police crack down on protest against church attacks, detain dozens
On the last day of campaigning in Delhi, Christian groups took out a silent protest march against the recent spate of attacks on churches.
Police detained dozens of people on Thursday who were protesting against recent attacks on churches in Delhi and who accuse Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government of inaction to prevent or investigate the incidents.
"Stop the vandalism, We want justice," shouted protesters during the peace march.
The march began from Sacred Heart church at 9:30 am and planned to culminate at Home Minister Rajnath Singh's residence. However, a large number of policemen tried to stop the activists protesting and detained many of them.
The protest outside the Sacred Heart cathedral in central Delhi was "unlawful", said the police, who were seen bundling activists into buses.
The Delhi police reportedly imposed Section 144 to prohibit the protest march. Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) of 1973, empowers a magistrate to prohibit an assembly of more than ten people in an area. According to other reports, the police said they wanted to move the protesters to Jantar Mantar, which is a about a km away.
When asked about their protest, a protester told a TV reporter, "Police want us to be inside the church campus, why can't we protest on the street? We have the permission."
Another protester pointed to government inaction over the church attacks. "Why didn't the police file FIR? Why is the government silent?," she asked
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has expressed "full solidarity" with the march. On Twitter, the Trinamool Congress chief also apparently targeted the BJP, without naming it. "One party is doing petty politics," she alleged.
A church was vandalised by unidentified miscreants in South Delhi's Vasant Kunj area on 2 February, 2015. However, investigation into the case appears to have made little progress. The police, who said it was a case of robbery and not vandalism, filed a case late on Monday night, but they are yet to identify any suspect. The police said they were finding it difficult to track down the culprits due to the lack of CCTV footage.
This is the fifth such attack on a church since November last year.
Last month, a church was vandalised in West Delhi's Vikaspuri area. In December, the St Sebastian's Church in Dilshad Garden, was partly gutted and the Christian community had alleged foul play in the incident.
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