Vandal of 5-Century-Old Mumbai Church Nabbed in Navi Mumbai

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MUMBAI – Moving swiftly, Mumbai police on Sunday tracked and arrested a 22-year-old youth from Navi Mumbai for allegedly vandalising the cemetery in the 489-year-old St. Michael’s Church in the metropolis’ Mahim area, a senior police official said.

Deputy Commissioner of Police (VI) Manoj Patil said that taking the incident very seriously, police set up multiple teams to track down the culprit involved in the Saturday dawn vandalism.

“One of the teams notched success and traced him to Kalamboli town in Mavi Mumbai. His name is Dawood Ibrahim Ahmed Shaikh, and after proper verification he has been arrested,” said DCP Patil.

He added that Shaikh, 22, had entered the Portuguese-built Mahim Church graveyard and indulged in a damage spree of several crosses and other property there.

Later, he remained on the church premises for sometime before leaving from there.

“The motives behind his actions or who is behind it is still not clear and we are investigating further, ” said DCP Patil.

The 500,000-strong Catholic community in Mumbai was aghast at the violence perpetrated in the cemetery premises and poured strong reactions on the social media.

Mahim Church Parish Priest Fr. Bernard Lancy Pinto and the Archdiocese of Mumbai expressed serious concern and urged the Mumbai Police to nab the perpetrator immediately.

The St. Michael’s Church is the oldest Portuguese church built in 1534 in its former colony of seven isles and the then sea-trading centre known as ‘Bom Bahia’ (later Bombay).

127 years later in May 1661, when Britain’s King Charles II married Princess Catherine of Braganza, the daughter of Portugal’s King John IV, ‘Bom Bahia’ was transferred to her husband as part of her wedding dowry.

The Mahim Church is famed for its Wednesday ‘novenas’ where people from all religions flock to attend and pray for miracles that are believed to take place.

The Catholic community in Mumbai and elsewhere has reacted sharply to the vandalism in Mahim Church and urged the police and government to take prompt action in the matter, besides ensuring security for the 125-odd churches in the city. -IANS

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