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ICC Note:

Christian leaders in India’s Goa state have complained that local police have allowed Hindu radicals to forcefully build a Hindu temple on church property. The property had been given to the church in order to build an education center. This was not agreeable to local Hindus because they didn’t want a Christian institution being built in their area. In August, against court order, Hindu radicals attacked security guards and began construction on a small Hindu temple on the church land. Will the government now enforce the rights of Christians to that property? 

9/28/2015 India (UCAN) – Church leaders and Catholic rights activists in the western Indian state of Goa said a temple forcefully built inside church property threatens peaceful relations between Catholics and Hindus.

In August, a 100-strong mob completed building a 20-square-meter temple inside property owned by the Salesians of Don Bosco at Nerul village in North Goa district.

The temple was built under police presence, defying an order blocking the construction by the district collector, the most senior local official.

“This amplifies the proximity of the perpetrators of the violence to the power centers,” said social activist Antonio Fernandes.

Trouble began after the “communidade” — Goa’s indigenous system of collective landholding — allotted 9.3 hectares of land to the Salesians in 2002 to build an educational hub.

But the project could not take off because of objections from some villagers who alleged the priests demolished a 200-year-old Kalimatadevi Hindu temple that existed in the center of that property.

They campaigned and moved the court to rebuild the allegedly demolished temple, even though the Salesians obtained a separate order from the state’s deputy director of villages directing local authorities to allow construction of the educational hub.

Nonetheless, the mob, led by the village leader, entered the property in August, beat up security guards and began construction of the temple.

Salesian Father Wilfred Fernandes, the manager of Don Bosco College who is overseeing the project, said the mob threatened to assault “our people” if they went ahead with developing the property.

But Sashikala Govekar, the village head who led the mob, is unrelenting. “How can they demolish the temple? Are we supposed to sit quiet and watch all this? We will not allow the priests to come here,” Govekar told ucanews.com.

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