The crosses seen thrown in a field adjacent to the cemetery at Tolleakanto-Velim. (Joao Sousa M)
MARGAO/VELIM: Some unknown miscreants struck at the church cemetery at Tolleakanto-Velim under the cover of darkness, on Monday night, uprooting as many as 92 crosses from there and throwing the same outside its compound wall.
The incident came to light when a parishioner had come to the cemetery on Tuesday morning to prepare a grave for an anniversary mass. Noticing the missing crosses, he raised an alarm. The parishioners didn’t take the alarm seriously at first. However, when other parishioners arrived at the cemetery, they realised the seriousness of the matter and alerted the parish priest of St Rock Church at Tolleakanto, Fr Luis Coutinho.
As the news spread, a large number of people from the close by areas gathered at the site.
The uprooted crosses were found thrown outside the compound wall of the cemetery, about 200 meters away from the church.
Cuncolim police said that it is not known as who has done the said act and added that interrogations are on.
Police informed that one mentally challenged woman from the area has been caught and sent to the Institute of Psychiatry and Human Behavior (IPHB), Bambolim.
Police said that she was moving in the said area and is from Khaagininum, adding she has not been arrested, and investigations are in progress.
According to PSI Tukaram Chawan, who visited the site, on Tuesday morning, along with his team after receiving the information, the parish priest of St Rocks Church Fr Luis Coutinho has lodged a complaint giving details of the incident.
The complaint has been registered by the Cuncolim police under Section 295 of the IPC for hurting religious sentiments, Chawan said. He informed that on Monday at 9.15 a.m., the parish priest had visited the cemetery and after conducting work returned by 10.30 a.m. from there.
According to the police, they have conducted the panchanama and recorded statements of some people in connection with the case.
The police said that as per the complaint, about 92 cross have been removed from the cemetery and thrown outside its compound wall.
According to PSI Chawan, a dog squad and finger print expert were called in. He also said that they visited some areas in Velim in connection with the investigation of the case to get some clues.
The police said that the mentally challenged woman, who has been sent to IPHB, was found making comments about the uprooted crosses, however, the details are being collected.
DYSP Mohan Naik, who visited the place, said that they have recorded the statements of the woman in the presence of members of an NGO, before she was sent to the IPHB.
Naik said that some time back the cemetery was cleaned and after that the same woman was seen in its vicinity, adding the situation in the village is calm.
The work of reinstalling the crosses has started, it is learnt. Upon hearing the news, several social workers, panchayat members and politicians visited the place and demanded the immediate arrest of the culprits involved in the case.