Hindu extremists devastate the site of a Catholic community hall in Allahabad
by Nirmala Carvalho

In a village in Kanpur, saffron-coloured flags were raised and the walls of a building near a Christian school were smeared with graffiti. The latter is open to pupils of all religious backgrounds. Radicals believe that an unauthorised church was under construction. The Bishop of Lucknow asks how any group can claim the right to destroy any structure, even if it lacks proper permits.

Allahabad (AsiaNews) – Hindu extremists attacked and laid waste a multipurpose hall under construction in Shahzadpur, a village in Kanpur Dehat district, in the Catholic diocese of Allahabad.

The facility was planned to provide people of all faiths welfare and educational services in order to empower them. Instead, the presence of a cross and the hall’s use as a prayer room for the local Catholic community unleashed the anger of radical elements.

Claiming that the building was going to be a church and that it was being built without proper construction permits, radical elements raised saffron-coloured flags at the site, smeared nearby walls with graffiti praising Hindu gods, and damaged CCTV cameras and statues.

The hall was to be built next to St Mary's School, which offers selfless service and quality education to pupils of all faiths, including the most vulnerable. All the proper building permits had been submitted and were pending approval.

A First Information Report (FIR) was filed with the police against Hindutva groups, including the Bajrang Dal and the Vishva Hindu Parishad.

Akbarpur police station officer Satish Kumar Singh said protesters also acted inappropriately  towards government officials when the latter tried to convince them not to take the law into their own hands.

"Even if the necessary permits were missing, who authorised the Bajrang Dal, the VHP or any other group to destroy illegal structures?” said Bishop Gerald Mathias of Lucknow, speaking to AsiaNews.

“These outfits behave as if they are above the law,” he lamented, noting that they have become emboldened by the fact that they “are not being reined in. Police ought to intervene against these vandals so that they don’t repeat such crimes.”