THE Goa Police have caught a 54 year old taxi driver named Francis Pereira for vandalising religious structures including crosses at a cemetery in south Goa. The arrest — seen as the end of a two week tense period in Goa where crosses and even a Hindu temple was targeted comes as great relief to the state government. According to DG Muktesh Chander, the initial questioning has led to Pereira admitting his crime. He has told the interrogators he has gone on a rampage due to his “belief that he is freeing the trapped souls”.
His most rampant attack was felt at Guardian Angel Catholic cemetery in South Goa’s Curchorem village where he damaged niches, granite crosses, tombstones, and graves. “He has confessed of having done this for the last five years. We are trying to probe if he was behind the earlier attacks on crosses too,” said an official.
Manohar Parrikar who suspected of a “planned attack” has rushed to Curchorem where Pereira is being probed. The attack had created fears of communal tension with political allies too asking the government to take serious note. The sitting MLA Nilesh Cabral had even threatened to go on a strike if the accused wasn’t nabbed in time. The Goa police was advised to use all modes of investigation by Parrikar himself as he said “even technology if human intelligence fails”.
Pereira’s first three attacks at crosses alongside roads were at evening hours, while his last attack was during heavy showers. The team that nabbed him is expected to be rewarded by the state government later this evening.