The Catholic Church in India has been saddened by an incident which took place on Good Friday in Sogandi, Tamil Nadu. A small community of Dalit Christians were not allowed to undertake a procession on Good Friday – something that churches all across the country usually do. On top of this, the sacred celebrations were forcefully and violently interrupted by the local police, led by the Tehsildar of the region.
“Government officials stopped the service midway, pulled down the altar and manhandled nuns at the procession”, Fr. Masiladaikalam Jacob, the Pastor of the Sogandi Parish where the incident took place on the 14th of April, told ucanews.com. Around 500 parishioners had taken out a peaceful Good Friday procession which was interrupted badly by close to 200 policemen led by the Tehsildar.
The Catholic Bishops Conference of India condemned the incident at Sogandi, and has released a press release urging the Centre to ensure that every citizen enjoys basic rights to worship. “We request our Prime Minister, the Home Minister and leaders cutting across party lines throughout the country to ensure that every person continues to feel safe and enjoy the basic right to worship freely and without fear,” said CBCI secretary general Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas.
Recently it was reported by the The Hindu, Newspaper, that police in Mumbai have refused to give written permission to Churches for the use of loudspeakers for Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter celebrations. The Churches were informed that action would have to be taken in case anyone complaints. These instances pose a major threat to the varied and proudly secular nature of India and creates unwanted disharmony.