With three places of worship vandalised within a period of 24 hours in south Goa, Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar on Tuesday described the act as “a specific attempt to try and create some sort of tension in the state”.
On Saturday, two crosses in St Jose de Areal and Gudi Paroda in south Goa were desecrated. While in one spot the platform on which the cross was placed was damaged, in the other spot there was an attempt to vandalise the cross. On Sunday evening, a Hindu structure called ‘Ghumti’, a small temple-like worship space, at Curchorem was attacked.
Police officials said that vigilance had been intensified, with instructions for patrolling extended to other villages in south Goa. After reviewing the situation and chairing a meeting with the top police brass, Parrikar said at a hurriedly held press meet, “Whoever is doing this is doing it deliberately, with proper planning. I have no doubts about it.”
The police have not described the episodes as “communal” or “political” at this stage. Parrikar said, “My suspicion is this is purposefully trying to create an issue in an otherwise calm situation. This is my reading. Not the police’s.”
Having taken stock of the modus operandi, he said that the police had found evidence to link the episodes. “Further, there were police pickets in these places. It’s only after the pickets were removed, and later in the evening, that the spots were attacked. In one incident, a person who visits regularly even offered flowers at 6 pm. It means someone is keeping watch, and then attacking. Normally the attitude is to damage and run. Reasons are unknown. I have asked the police to use all sorts of methodology, including technology, Google mapping to find the culprits,” he added.
Senior police officials confirmed that patrolling would run parallel to the probe and stop only after the culprits have been booked. Parrikar, meanwhile, leaves for the US this week. He will be the keynote speaker at an event hosted by Maharastra Mandal. “I have asked them to keep me posted on the case,” he said.
Similar cases with the potential to trigger communal tension have earlier been recorded in Goa, especially in the past few months. A month ago, there was outrage from all sections after Sadhvi Saraswathi in a Hindu Janajagruti Samiti event in Ponda called for “capital punishment” for anyone who eats beef. Goa has also extended the ban on Sri Rama Sene chief Pramod Muthalik from entering the state. Muthalik had tried to incite communal tension in Goa a few years ago.