Goa cross desecration row: Accused tied to 150 such cases, has prior attempt to murder charges say cops

Panaji: A 50-year-old man, arrested for the alleged desecration of holy crosses in South Goa district recently, will be questioned in connection with nearly 150 such cases reported from the state in the last 15 years.

The special investigation team of Goa Police had on Friday night arrested Francis Pereira in connection with the alleged desecration of holy crosses in South Goa over the last fortnight.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

"We are investigating around 150 cases of desecration of holy crosses reported during the last 15 years in the state. A preliminary investigation has revealed that the accused was involved in those cases, but the inquiry is still going on," Superintendent of Police (South) Arvind Gawas told PTI.

Gawas said 150 first information reports (FIRs) were registered in different police stations across the state which would now be investigated following Pereira's arrest.

Pereira, a taxi driver from Curchorem village in South Goa, was arrested by the police on Friday night while he was attempting to desecrate a cross at Curtorim village, around 20 kms from his residence.

The accused told the police that he "casually" vandalised 12 crosses over the last fortnight with no intention to create an enmity, a senior police officer earlier said.

Pereira, who was convicted in an attempt to murder case earlier, had been living at Curchorem village after serving the jail term, he said.

The religious symbol was vandalised in at least 12 places besides a temple in the South Goa district since 1 July.

Besides the crosses, around 50 gravestones were also damaged in Curchorem village last Sunday.

The Goa Church had expressed "deep pain" over incidents of desecration of crosses and felt that the incidents could be the handiwork of vested interests to trigger communal discord in the state, which is known for its religious tolerance.

Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar, state agriculture minister Vijai Sardesai, Curchorem MLA Nilesh Cabral, director general of police (DGP) Muktesh Chander and senior police officers held  meeting on Saturday at the Curchorem police station, following Pereira's arrest.

Updated Date: Jul 16, 2017 14:01 PM

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