01/02/2007, 00.00
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Statues of the Immaculate and the Infant Jesus destroyed in Hyderabad

by Nirmala Carvalho
The two figures were near the Christ the King Church in Ramanthapur. Suspicions fall on Hindu nationalist militants.

Hyderabad (AsiaNews) – Someone unknown destroyed two statues representing Our Lady of Lourdes and Infant Jesus overnight on December 25-26. Measuring about 80 cm (2.6 ft) each, the two figures were located in a niche on the street-side wall of the Christ the King Church near the entrance to the Major Seminary School in Ramanthapur (Hyderabad), in the state of Andhra Pradesh.

Police have been posted in the area and an inquiry is underway. Although a busy state highway runs nearby, there were no eye witnesses to the incident.

Suspicion has however fallen on extremist Hindu nationalists who came into the city from the outskirts to take part in their national convention.

In Ramanthapur many Christian groups, including Protestants, protested against the desecration.

On December 26, 2006, several officials visited the place, including Christine Lazares, a nominated MLA; Janab Yusuf Qureshi, chairman of the Andhra Pradesh Minority Commission; and Fr Dr Anthoniraj Thumma, executive secretary of the Andhra Pradesh Federation of Churches.

“I found the heads of the both the statues broken and only the rest of the statues still standing,” Fr. Anthoyiraj Thumma told AsiaNews. “The fibre glass doors of the statues, kept separately though side by side, were completely smashed. [. . .] The intention of the culprits seemed to disturb the peace and joy of the Christians during the festive season and give vent to their anger and jealousy filled with extremist fundamentalism and exclusiveness.”

A similar incident was reported in Tirupati on December 21, 2006. Unknown criminals broke two statues, one of Our Lady of VelanKanni and the other of the Infant Jesus. They were both placed on the compound wall, on the gate of the parish church of Jaganmatha.

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