In a press
statement, Archbishop Stanislaus Fernandes said the Catholic Church in
India is “saddened by the violence in Vadodara,” reported ICNS, the
Indian bishops’ news site.
Five people were
killed and dozens injured in clashes in the walled city over the
demolition of a dargah, a Muslim shrine built above the grave of a
well-respected religious person. On Wednesday morning, a 32-year-old
man was burnt alive by a crowd of 1,500 people.
started when the Vadodara Municipal Corporation squad started
demolishing the 200-year-old dargah and locals of the area began
shouting slogans and later attacked officials involved in the
people of the minority community had requested the authorities and city
mayor Sunil Solanki not to demolish the dargah, due to its historic and
sentimental value to citizens. They demanded that the dargah be
declared a heritage site.
However, the largely Hindu squad went ahead with its demolition as the structure was obstructing traffic, police said.
People from two
groups started pelting stones at each other and set on fire four shops,
officials said. Police fired at least 10 rounds and lobbed more than 30
tear gas shells to disperse the violent mob.
In their press
statement, the bishops also appealed to all groups to promote
reconciliation and peace processes and not to provoke harmful religious
unfortunate that the razing to the ground of a holy shrine, symbol of
peace and harmony, should also bring crumbling down the fragile edifice
of trust and harmony that was surfacing in this communally-sensitive
state,” Archbishop Fernandez said.
Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India on Wednesday condemned the
continuing violence in the city of Vadodara and said the outbreak of
riots is a setback to the healing process that had begun in India’s
western state of Gujarat.