New Delhi: Brihan Mumbai Corporation's (BMC) decision to demolish churches crosses across the city has angered the Christians.
Churches and crosses define Bandra, the quaint western suburb of Mumbai, with a predominantly Christian community. The BMC sticking demolition notices on these revered symbols, not just in this suburb, but across the entire city, has left the community fuming.
"I have never seen people so angry before. How can the civic body act in this way," said Father Warner D'souza, Parish priest, Mount Carmel Church.
The BMC quotes a 2009 Supreme Court order directing that illegal religious structures obstructing vehicular traffic be removed. Residents say not only are the crosses legal, but that the apex court order had asked states to first formulate a policy on religious structures before ordering demolitions..
"We met the Chief Minister. He has stayed the order for the interim month," said David Joseph, lawyer.
While the Catholic community is upset with the highhandedness and insensitivity of actually attaching the circular onto these crosses, most of which are historic and legal, the questions many are asking is: why hasn't the civic body attached these same notices onto temples and mosques that are also on the list of structures they have deemed as illegal?
A spot check of structures on BMC's list - like the Ram Mandir at Rebello Road and the Sai Baba Mandir off Hill Road - shows no sign of any circular. Members of the community say they are being targeted.
"The Christian community feels as if they have been targeted because they are passive," said Abraham Mathai, Vice-Chairman, State Minorities Commission.
As the community prepares to fight this new battle, these circulars remain a heavy cross to bear.