NHRC directs Chief Secretary to submit report on church attacks

New Delhi : The National Human Rights Commission has taken suo motu cognisance of reports about a church in Vikaspuri , which was vandalised last week. Prior to this, four other incidents of attacks and suspected arson at Christian religious institutions have occurred in Dilshad Garden, Rohini and Jasola since December 1, 2014.

The NHRC has observed that these frequent attacks on religious institutions of the minority community, if true, may violate the fundamental right to freedom of religion and cause “immense harm” to the country’s social fabric. The culprits involved in these incidents should be brought to book, it said.

The commission has issued notice to the Delhi Chief Secretary calling for a report on these incidents within four weeks, reported thehindu.com.

The Chief Secretary was also directed to submit a report about the action proposed to be taken to prevent recurrence of such incidents in the Capital.

The church in Vikaspuri was allegedly vandalised by two men in the early hours of January 14, even as the church authorities claimed that the attack was carried out to stoke communal tension.

Captured on CCTV

The incident was captured on closed circuit television cameras installed in the vicinity of the church.

When the priest arrived at the church in early morning, he found the glass cabinet mounted on the outside wall broken and the statue of Mother Mary lying on the ground. Video footage reportedly showed two men on a motorcycle vandalising the church, first by breaking the glass cabinet and returning shortly after to push the statue causing a fall.

Earlier, an incident of arson was reported at St. Sebastian’s Church in Dilshad Garden, which is among the biggest churches in East Delhi, in December.

The entire interior, including the altar, the Cross and religious scriptures, were reduced to ashes in the incident.

The church was active till a night before the burning because of religious ceremonies for Catholic children receiving their first Holy Communion.

The NHRC had taken cognisance of the incident of arson at St. Sebastian’s Church as well, while observing that the destruction of a place of worship with intent to insult the religion of any group was an offence under the Indian Penal Code.

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