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Crackdown on ‘devil worship’

Shillong, July 20: Desecration of cemeteries and venerated symbols has been keeping law enforcers busy in this Christian-dominated state.

On Friday afternoon, boys of Lumshyiap locality here had spotted a statue of Jesus Christ, which was put up at the verandah of a Catholic church located in a cemetery.

Near the statue, which was covered by a cloth, a cross, in an inverted position, was also placed. The area falls under the St Peter & Paul Parish, Pynthorumkhrah.

Those behind the incident, who are yet to be identified, had broken the church’s windowpanes, which probably enabled them to remove the statue.

This incident was one of the reported ones from across the state, which even made administrators impose Section 144 CrPC to deter those who wish to carry out such acts of desecration.

Last month, a team of magistrates from the East Khasi Hills had visited some of the cemeteries located here where they reportedly discovered obscene graffiti, liquor bottles, and recently lit bonfires using wooden crosses extracted from adjoining gravesites.

East Khasi Hills deputy commissioner Sanjay Goyal said the law enforcers have decided to keep vigil in secluded areas like cemeteries to keep an eye on those who are perpetrating such desecrating acts.

To prevent youths from getting into such acts, Goyal said Meghalaya police would be conducting counselling classes for youths in schools and colleges in the state capital. The police would also be moving to other areas within the East Khasi Hills to conduct similar classes. Law enforcers are of the opinion that the Friday incident has a correlation with those who are purportedly into devil or Satan worship.

In the past few months, there have been reports of the prevalence of “devil or Satanic worshippers” in Shillong, Tura (West Garo Hills) and Williamnagar (East Garo Hills). In May, five youths were caught in Tura while they were hanging around in a graveyard. East Khasi Hills and West Garo Hills districts had even imposed Section 144 CrPc after having received inputs that a certain number of people, especially youths, were indulging in what is described as devil worship or Satan worship. The administrators felt that the worship is manifested in the form of public nudity, desecration of graves, destruction and vandalism of religious and sacred symbols and texts, and movement of youths, both boys and girls, at cemeteries, and indulging in activities, both immoral and criminal, like defacing the walls with graffiti, gang fights and unauthorised bike races at night.

Fr Ioanis Warpakma, parish priest of the St Peter & Paul Parish, said such kind of worship is prevalent in various places. “There is also a feeling that those who are following this cult could be those who are mostly addicted to either drugs or alcohol. Perhaps, by indulging in such acts, they believe that they would be bestowed with wealth, fame and power. But the problem is the inability to identify them so that corrective measures could be undertaken,” he said.

Although churches do conduct various programmes for the youths, but those who are indulging in such acts would never turn up, he added.

“Until we are able to identify and reach out to those youths, we have to undertake measures to prevent others from becoming victims of such acts. We need to carry out more awareness drives among youths,” Fr Warpakma said.


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