Questioning police claims that the incidents of serial desecration in Goa is the alleged handiwork of one person, a social wing of the influential Church said the vandalism of religious places in the coastal state is part of a larger nationwide conspiracy and demanded a judicial probe.
According to the Church-backed Council for Social Justice and Peace, a five-member fact-finding committee which had been probing the serial desecrations in Goa has also said that Christians and Muslims in the state were being targeted through false propaganda, as agents of Portugal and Pakistan respectively.
"The team strongly feels that the arrest appears as a familiar script to similar crimes across the country to pacify the civil society and the affected communities and divert attention from the actual perpetrators.
The extensive damage caused as witnessed by the fact finding team could not have been possibly inflicted by a single person, more over who is 50 years old," said a statement issued by the Council on Saturday and demanded an "impartial investigation" into the crimes.
Earlier on Saturday, police arrested a middle-aged taxi driver, who, officials said, was responsible for the serial desecration in the state, in which dozens of crosses as well as other Catholic icons and two two Hindu idols were desecrated in the South Goa district.
The fact-finding committee, which comprised two members of the Centre for Study of Society and Secularism and three members from the CSJP, said that the atmosphere in Goa was "vitiated and communalised to cause polarisation through relentless anti-minority narrative".
"Christians and Muslims are especially targets of demonisation through false propaganda. Muslims are portrayed as terrorists and loyal to Pakistan while Christians are portrayed as being agents of Portugal and anti-nationals and seeking to convert members of other religious communities through fraud/inducement," the statement said.
"The desecrations are carried out in a form of a campaign to strike fear, insecurity and mistrust among communities in Goa. Most of the desecrated crosses visited by the team have been targeted more than once in the past, more particularly around political developments in the state," it said.
Goa's Catholics and Muslims account for more than one third of the state's 1.5 million population.
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