Mumbai: In an exemplary move, civic officials and members of the Christian community from Andheri East shifted a stone cross located on the road opposite Holy Family Church inside the premises Tuesday.
The move follows the Bombay high court’s order to remove wayside shrines.
The 75-year-old church at Chakala gives its name to Holy Family Junction. Approximately 200 parishioners offered prayers before the 8 ft tall relic was carefully lifted and relocated inside.
Parish priest Vincent Vaz said, “We had prepared a place for the cross inside our premises, but we had two demands before we would have shifted it there. The first was that the authorities should grant us the TDR due to us since we handed over a portion of our land for road widening 10 years ago. The second was for a traffic chowky to be built at this accident-prone junction. Several parishioners have suffered injuries here.”
The priests along with Godfrey Pimenta and Nicholas Almeida of the NGO Watchdog Foundation met with ward officials at the church Monday. They received written assurance that this would be done, reported The Times of India.
Assistant municipal commissioner of K East ward Devendra Jain said, “The Christian community is sensitive to the needs of the city and its leaders cooperated well. The cross was relocated with mutual consent. We held marathon meetings with the priests and assured them that their TDR concerns are being addressed and a traffic chowky will be installed at Holy Family Junction.”
The policemen that was present on site was impressed by the dignity of the exercise. Senior inspector of Andheri police station Pandit Thorat said, “It was an emotional moment.
Such an old church, such an old cross – the manner in which they prayed before it and performed rituals before it was shifted was so dignified. I thanked the priests for their excellent cooperation.”
Meanwhile, in Andheri West, a wayside cross outside Andheri post office has been rebuilt after being demolished. The structure was razed a few months ago following the high court order on illegal religious structures.