Chetan Mane | HENB | Panaji | July 15, 2017:: A Special Investigation Team (SIT) of the Goa Police has arrested a 50-year-old Christian man in connection a series of cases of alleged desecration of holy crosses in South Goa district, a senior officer said on Saturday.

The accused confessed to vandalising 12 crosses in South Goa in the past fortnight, the police officer claimed.

Francis Pereira, a native of Curchorem village in South Goa, was arrested last night while he was trying to desecrate a cross at Curtorim village, nearly 20 kms from his resident.

The Christian religious symbol in at least 12 places and a temple had been vandalized in South Goa district since July 1.

One section of Christian community was trying to blame any Hindu outfits to attack Christian religious symbols and places. And an atmosphere of untrust and unrest were  building up between two communities. But, the arrest of Pereira unearthed the matter as an heinous and playful attack on Christian religious symbols by a Christian, not by any Hindu. However, the greater mystery of such attacks is not still divulged by the police.

“A police team spotted Pereira trying to damage the Cross. However, on seeing the policemen, he tried to escape from the spot. After a brief chase, police nabbed him,” the senior police officer told .

“During the preliminary questioning, he admitted to having carried out the desecration of crosses,” he said.

The police officer expressed confidence that with the arrest of Pereira, other cases of desecration of crosses in the recent past, would also be cracked.

The police officer said the motive behind the desecrations was yet to be known as the interrogation of the accused was still on.

Police are conducting a search at Pereira’s residence in Curchorem, where he lives with his family.

The official said that the accused was a convict in an attempt to murder case in 2000, and is now out of jail after serving a sentence.

Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar said he would address the media over the issue this afternoon.

Goa witnessed a number of attacks on religious symbols, especially of the Christian community, in the last fortnight. Besides the crosses, around 50 gravestones were also damaged in Curchorem village last Sunday.

The Goa Church had earlier expressed “deep pain” over the incidents of desecration of crosses and felt that these incidents seemed to be designed by vested interests to provoke communal discord in the state, which is known for religious tolerance.

In view of the incidents of defiling of religious symbols, Parrikar had last week held a high a high-level meeting with police officials.

He asked all the police stations in the state to form special investigation teams to nab the accused at the earliest.

Police is investigating further, whether arrested Francis Pereira belongs to any group or organisation that wants to disturb the social harmony in Goa.

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