Cops keep close watch on Christmas celebrations, special security given

Special security was provided by Delhi Police at churches for Christmas, as assured after the fire at St Sebastian’s Church in Dilshad Garden earlier in the month. 

The number of policemen at each church depended on the expected gathering. Over 30 policemen were posted outside the damaged church in northeast Delhi, with barricades at the nearby roads.

On the eve of Christmas, a group of Christians also met Prime Minister Narendra Modi to greet him. During the meeting, the community leaders said the ‘burning’ of the church had created a sense of insecurity. 

“We are not satisfied with the probe done by Delhi Police in the case, but sufficient security was provided at churches across the capital on Wednesday and Thursday,” said Dr John Dayal, a former member of National Integration Council of India and All India Christian Council.

Despite requests for improved security outside churches, no meeting has been held by the community leaders with Delhi Police in the past two weeks.

The community had earlier requested the government to repair the church, but no construction work has been carried out yet.

“The Christmas Midnight Mass prayer service on the night of December 24 was not held at the church. The faithful of the capital celebrated at the Dilshad Garden parish,” added St Sebastian Church’s priest Anthony Francis. Tents were also put up outside the church to accommodate over 1,000 people who gathered there to sing carols late on Wednesday. 

“We hope that the construction work will be undertaken by the Central Public Works Department, but nothing apart from the constitution of a Special Investigating Team has been done so far for the church by the government,” Church priest Anthony Francis said.

The SIT led by Joint Commissioner of Delhi Police (Crime) Ravindra Yadav has also failed to come to any substantial conclusion in the probe. They will file a report with the Union Home Ministry within two months.

St. Sebastian’s Church was constructed in 2001 and is among the biggest churches in the area. The fire was reported on December 1 and the entire interior, including the Altar, the Holy Bible and Cross were reduced to ashes.

On the complaint of Church priest Anthony Francis, police had registered an FIR against unidentified persons for causing the fire with malicious intent. It is alleged that unidentified miscreants intentionally set fire with kerosene.

After the fire, police along with Central Reserve Police Force and Nagaland Police personnel were deployed outside the church. Now, the security is handled by local police. 

“Over 30 policemen are posted there from 8 pm to 8 am as we consider it to be vulnerable hours. A tight vigil is kept during the day by a smaller team,” said Rajendra Singh Sagar, Additional Deputy Commissioner of Police (North East). 

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