INDIA Demolished cross sparks outrage among Catholics
Th archdiocese of Mumbai is taking legal action following the demolition of a 122 year-old cross in a suburb of Mumbai late last month. Local civic officers had demolished the cross, inciting an angry response from the Catholic community. A makeshift cross was put up hours later.
In 2016 the Allahabad High Court issued a directive calling for the removal of all religious structures which infringe upon all public roads, ranging from highways to pathways. The objective of the ruling was to prevent religious activities from hindering the flow of traffic on public roads. The court ordered any religious structure raised before 2011 to be moved to private land or removed in six months. Thirty-two temples and six crosses have been removed since the court order.
Assistant municipal commissioner Sharad Ughade had notified the Mumbai church on 26 April that the cross would be demolished, referring to the ruling. In response, the owner of the land that the cross was located on provided documents that proved the land was private.
“This is gross misuse of authority and the archdiocese, in collaboration with various representative bodies, will legally pursue the matter,” said archdiocesan spokesperson Father Nigel Barrett. Father Barrett said that legal action would be taken over the destruction of the cross, decrying that the proper documentation was seemingly ignored by civic authorities as the cross was already located on private property.
The representative for the area’s state legal assembly, Ashish Shelar, met with all affected parties two weeks ago. Shelar said the cross was included on a list of illegal structures which interfere with the development plan of the city but admitted it had been mistakenly added to the list “without proper homework.”
Moving forward, Shelar said the plan would be to reexamine the documents of the demolitions completed so far, to give all religious structures on the list a month to be relocated. He also granted the request for a Christian cemetery to be built in Malad, a suburb on the other side of Mumbai.