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from daijiworld's special correspondent

Panaji, Aug 7: Goa police have asked the parish priests to maintain their own security with the help of parishioners in the church and chapels to curb instances of burglaries, which has rocked this coastal state.

The action follows a letter written by Goa Church expressing concern about the spate of burglaries and robberies that hit mostly the Churches and Chapels, tucked in the isolated places.

Unofficial figure puts the entire burglaries and Holy Cross vandalism to 25, which fortunately, did not triggered any communal violence, in the state with 30 per cent Catholic population.

"The Parish priests have been asked to maintain their own security arrangements. It was suggested to them that they can ask the village volunteers to sleep in the church night time on a rotation basis. The local municipalities and panchayats can also be chipped in to illuminate the church and chapels," Tony Fernandes, deputy superintendent of police, stated.

Fernandes, recently, addressed meeting of parish priests, who had raised their concerns over security of places of Catholic importance.

What had made state administration more worry is that few of the antiques date back to 15th century and made of ivory, gold or silver, which fetches considerable amount in the international market.

Says Fr Mavrik Fernandes, executive director, council for social justice and peace,"We had written to the state government way back in February… We had asked that state police home guard be stationed outside the churches and chapels, mostly located at secluded spots. We had submitted a list of such churches and chapels."

The police, however, rule out possibility of posting home guards, pointing out to the scarcity of home guard personnels.

Instead, police have given list of suggestions to the parish priests. They have been asked to keep priceless idols and statues in safe custody and display the replicas. Original statues and idols can be brought out for veneration during feast or other important days as these antiques are precious, DySP Fernandes said.


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