Cracking the cases of desecrations of holy crosses and other religious symbols in South Goa, the Curchorem police on Saturday arrested a habitual desecrator Francis Xavier Pereira (50) at Curchorem.
Pereira, who is popular with the nickname ‘Boy’, is a resident of Morialem-Curchorem. He has been illegally ferrying travellers in his Maruti van (GA09D 1782), and lives with his sister and brothers.
Giving details about how Pereira was arrested, the police said that at about 3.30 am on Saturday a van arrived at Curchorem and moved towards Morialem. The police, which had been zeroing in the particular van and its driver Pereira in the last few days, intercepted the vehicle.
The police took Pereira in custody and took him to the police station. After being interrogated he confessed to desecrating the religious places and symbols.
Later on Saturday morning, the police took the desecrator to his house and searched rooms. The police found a coita, tools and bamboo sticks. The police also recovered a diary which has some jottings. The diary also has newspaper cuttings attached to pages.
When media persons questioned Pereira whether he has any grudge against holy crosses or Christianity, he said, “I have nothing against any community or religion. I have damaged roadside religious structures – be they a cross, a Tulsi vrundavan or a ghumti. I have committed these acts only to release the souls trapped in the crosses, Tulsi vrundavan, ghumtis etc,” he said.
“I am ready to compensate the damages. I have enough money,” he said.
The police said that Pereira has been involved in desecrations of more than 150 religious structures in the last 14 years.
In 2000, the desecrator was arrested for shooting a youth from Khamamol, Curchorem. Later, he was convicted and jailed for three years.
After his release from the prison, he turned to committing antisocial activities.
Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar, Town and Country Planning Minister Vijai Sardesai and Curchorem MLA Nilesh Cabral were also present at the Curchorem police station.
DGP Dr Muktesh Chandar; South Goa SP Arvind Gawas; Quepem DySP Raju Raut Dessai; Margao PI C L Patil; Cancona PI Rajendra Prabhudessai and others were also present at the police station.
Narrating how Pereira was pinned down and arrested, the police said that following the desecration of the cemetery of Guardian Angel Church, Curchorem, the police began gathering footages from CCTV cameras installed in the surrounding areas.
Also, two police teams were constituted, which consisted of Gawas, PI (traffic) Ravindra Dessai and constables Avinash Naik and Vishal Bhoyar.
Naik began route mapping of vehicular traffic especially those vehicles that moved during the nighttime. Dessai and Naik noted that the Maruti van (GA 09 D 1782) had been moving during night hours, the police said.
On the night of July 13 the van was seen leaving Curchorem towards Margao. In the wee hours of July 14 the van was intercepted by the Curtorim police during nakabandi. The Curtorim police in turn passed on the information to the Curchorem police, whose police personnel stopped the van at Curchorem, and took Pereira to the Curchorem police station.
The Curchorem police then took samples of his handwriting and let him go. The police said that Francis’ handwriting matched with the writing on a piece of paper found in the desecrated cemetery. This made the police conclude that Francis was the culprit behind the desecrations.
The police went to his home at Morialem, but he was not found.
At about 3.30 am on Saturday the van arrived at Curchorem and moved towards Morialem. The police stopped the van and intercepted the driver, and that finally led to the arrest of the desecrator.