09 Jan 2022  |   07:53am IST

Tension over video of rightwing outfit threatening to stop St Joseph Vaz feast

Right-wing groups warn of consequences of the venue of the novenas and feast of St Joseph Vaz is shifted to what they claim is a protected archaeological site; priests lodge a complaint of harassment and assault by right-wing groups on parishioners preparing for the feasts

Team Herald

Sancoale: Tension prevailed in Sancoale after a video went viral wherein a rightwing outfit member is seen forcing the Archives and Archaeology employee to stop the Novenas and Feast of St Joseph Vaz, which take place at the Frontispiece of Sancoale Church, where St Joseph Vaz worshipped. 

The member is seen and heard directing the employee to tell the police or the collector to pass an order and stop the services, “if you don’t stop, we will stop,” he threatens.

The Fest of St Joseph Vaz is celebrated on January 16 each year

The right-wing member stated that no structure can be built within 100 meters of the archaeological site and a chapel that has been built should be 

demolished and again threatens that they will take action. “Now we are telling you peacefully and, in a language, known to you, otherwise we will have to use another language,” the rightwing member again intimidates the govt servant which on duty, which is a punishable offense.

Last week several members of outfits including Bajarang dal and others met the officials of Archives and Archaeology department and lodged their objections to the forthcoming celebration of St Joseph Vaz Feast at the Old Church premises. The Christians have always been conducting the feast of St. Joseph Vaz at St Joseph Vaz Sanctuary and therefore, there is no reason to conduct the same at the protected site of the ruins of the Vijayadurga temple

Meanwhile, Jayesh Naik who purportedly belongs to the Bajrang Dal said in a statement "We are not against Christianity, Jesus or St Joseph Vaz. We respect all of them but our only objection is with regards to the illegal activities going on at the protected site, in name of religion or St Joseph Vaz. We are not going to tolerate this and if this illegality still continues then we will surely hold our religious ceremony at the same protected site."

 However, a face-off had already started. On January 2, Fr. Rodes Parish Priest of Church of Our Lady of Health, Fabrica da Igreja de Sancoale, lodged his complaint before Verna Police against a mob of around 30 people led by Jayesh Naik for assault, interference in Government sanctioned works, and creating communal disharmony. It was also mentioned in the complaint that the Old Church of Sancoale where the facade with the statue of Our Lady of Health still stands is a holy site revered by Catholics from all over Goa and beyond.

Following this complaint, the Verna police submitted a report before Deputy Collector Mormugao stating that Fr. Kenneth Teles, Parish Priest of the same Church Goa complained around 30 people entered the premises for entering slogans “JAI SHREE RAM" and further tried to assault the parishioners and stopped the painting work of the front piece of the church for Novenas and the feast of St. Joseph Vaz on 16th January 2022. Police then requested the Deputy collector to initiate proceeding as per Section 107 CrPC.

Churchill wants Jayesh Naik arrested 

MARGAO: TMC leader Churchill Alemao on Saturday demanded the immediate arrest of Bajrang Dal leader Jayesh Naik for disturbing Hindu-Christian religious harmony at Sancoale by creating issues with regards to Saint Joseph Vaz feast. 

Addressing the media persons at his Varca office he said the Hindutva agenda is not acceptable in States such as Goa, and in the country where all believe in harmony and peace. 

"We are all peace loving people and Goans live in harmony, and hence nobody should be allowed to disturb it", he said. 

Churchill urged Chief Minister Dr Pramod Sawant to intervene in the matter and direct the Police to arrest Jayesh Naik and keep him in jail till the elections are over. 

"Goa is known all over the world as a peaceful state. Nobody in Goa ever objected to anyone practicing his religion and rituals. However, few people like Jayesh Naik of Bajrang Dal are creating unnecessary disharmony among Hindu and Christian members, and hence this should not be tolerated", he said. 

It is pertinent to note that a few days ago a group of the Hindu outfit led by Jayesh Naik had objected to the pandal installed for feast of Saint Joseph Vaz at Sancoale, alleging that it is a protected heritage site. The group had also warned the officers of District Collectorate to initiate action. Jayesh has even raised objections to the chapel built at Sancoale. 

"St Joseph Vaz is the only Goan saint and his feast at Sancoale is celebrated for the last several decades. This is not a first incident wherein Jayesh has created problems; as he was the sole responsible person for creating communal tensions at Rumdamol Housing over the issue of flags of Muslim community", Churchill said. 

He said Jayesh has even threatened the government officials over the issue. 

"Who is he (Jayesh) to tell us what to celebrate and what not to eat? It is high time that the CM should intervene in the matter and direct the police to arrest him immediately, and keep him in custody till the elections are over '', TMC leader demanded. 

Churchill opined that Hindutva agenda is neither acceptable in Goa nor in the country, as the Constitution has given every person the right to practice his/her religion and rituals. 

Herald asks

Does any outfit have the right to enter the premises of any religious institution and shout slogans and threaten to assault and cause disturbances, as per the police complaint? What action has the government taken to act on the complaint?

If any party has a grievance about the venue of any event, including a feast, there are the police and the courts for redressal. Can the secular state allow any fringe group to barge into the church premises or the office of archives and archaeology and threaten to disrupt a feast that draws pilgrims across faiths to one of the holiest shrines?

Take complaints by priests seriously

On January 2 Fr. Rodes Priest of Church of Our Lady of Health, Fabrica da Igreja de Sancoale, lodged his complaint before Verna Police against a mob of around 30 people led by Jayesh Naik for assault, interference and creating communal disharmony

Fr. Kenneth Teles, Parish Priest of Church of Our Lady of Health, also complained 30 people entered the premises shouting slogans “JAI SHREE RAM" and further tried to assault the parishioners and stopped the painting work of the front piece of the church for Novenas and the feast of St. Joseph Vaz on 16th January 2022

IDhar UDHAR

IDHAR UDHAR