Vijayawada, August 5, 2016
Authorities of the Indian city of Vajayawada (state of Andhra Pradesh) have been prevented from demolishing a local Roman Catholic cathedral—Catholic priests and believers stood up in defense of the cathedral, forming a human shield before it, reports Sedmitza.ru.
The incident took place on August 1 when representatives of the authorities and workers arrived on the site to demolish a part of the cathedral building in order to widen the road. But hundreds of parishioners, supported by political opposition representatives, stood in their way. The protesters expressed their indignation not only at the demolition plans, but also at the fact that the city authorities had not informed Church hierarchy about their plans. The Catholic community demands that the widened motorway bypass the cathedral which is a mid-nineteenth century architectural monument.
Reportedly, the bulldozer that arrived to the cathedral nevertheless managed to demolish a wall of the complex adjoining the church building. Church representatives have filed an official complaint about “an insult to Catholics” in the form of damage to several statues.
Police dispersed the demonstration and detained its organizers. However, they were soon released. At present, law-enforcement officers are keeping watch near the cathedral.
The National Democratic Alliance coalition which is closely associated with a major nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party has been in power in the state of Andhra Pradesh since May. Supporters of this party which is headed by the current Prime Minister Narendra Modi are accused of persecution of religious minorities in various regions of India.