Lanka bombings: Security beefed up for Delhi churches

New Delhi, April 22, 2019: The Delhi Police have strengthened security in churches across the capital in the wake of bomb blasts at three churches and luxury hotels in Sri Lanka that claimed the lives of 290 people and left more than 500 injured during Easter celebrations on Sunday.

A two-layer security cordon has been put in place around prominent churches in the city for proper searching and frisking of visitors and people attending morning and evening prayers. While the inner layer security of the churches is being taken care of private security guards and staffers employed by the churches, the city police along with personnel from the paramilitary forces are guarding the outer layer.

“Anti-terror Parakram vans — which carry trained commandos armed with MP5 submachine guns and other sophisticated weapons — have been deployed outside prominent churches across the city. These commandos are trained in combating threats and work as first responder during any terrorist attack. We have also deployed policemen in uniform and plainclothes to keep a check on suspicious movements. All anti-terror measures are being taken to thwart any untoward incidents at religious as well as other important installations across the city,” said Madhur Verma, Delhi Police spokesperson.

Father Savarimuthu Sankar, spokesperson of Delhi Catholic Archdiocese, said that there are over 200 big and small churches in the city, out of which 80 are Catholic.

“We had meetings with senior police officers regarding the security arrangements in the churches during Good Friday and Easter celebrations. They gave us certain suggestions, which we are following to keep our religious structures safe and free from any kind of attacks. We are satisfied with the security being provided by the police,” said Sankar.

The prominent churches in the city include central Delhi’s Sacred Heart Cathedral near Gol Dak Khana roundabout, Cathedral Church of Redemption at North Avenue, St James’s Church in north Delhi’s Kashmere Gate, St Thomas Church in RK Puram, Central Baptist Church in Chandni Chowk and Trinity Church of God in Mayur Vihar Phase-1

Deputy Commissioner of police (north) Nupur Prasad said that round-the-clock security cover by police teams — in the form of four constables led by either an assistant sub-inspector or sub-inspector — is being provided to all important churches in north Delhi.

“We increase the deployment of security personnel during the morning and evening prayers at the churches. Police pickets have been placed and patrolling on bikes and police vans are being done on the approach roads of the religious structures,” said Prasad.

Safety and security of Christian minority institutions became a major concern for the city police after a series of attacks on churches in 2015, which later boiled into a political issue. CCTVs and scanner machines, besides other security measures, were installed in churches that had high footfall.

(Hindustan Times)

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