New Delhi, Feb. 14: The Centre has directed Delhi police to take measures to ensure the safety of churches in the capital after six attacks in two months on Christian institutions.
The home ministry issued an order to the police after the Prime Minister yesterday summoned police chief B.S. Bassi after a break-in at a Catholic school in south Delhi and asked him to "take strict action". Narendra Modi also spoke to home secretary L.C. Goyal and asked him to "pay special attention to the rising incidents of crime and vandalism" in Delhi.
According to an action plan drawn up by the police after talks between Goyal and Bassi in North Block around 6pm yesterday, three steps are in the pipeline:
• Police pickets will be posted outside churches;
• The height of the boundary walls of minority institutions will be raised;
• Closed-circuit television cameras will be installed inside and outside the churches.
Sources said details of the action plan had been sent to all police stations in Delhi. Goyal is understood to have asked Bassi to ensure enough police presence and regular patrolling outside minority institutions.
Yesterday, Modi broke his silence on the repeated church attacks after a pre-dawn break-in at Holy Child Auxilium School. There had been much criticism because he did not comment after the earlier attacks.
The Delhi Archbishop, Anil J.T. Couto, said assurances by home minister Rajnath Singh and the police needed to be translated into action as the latest attack was added proof of Delhi's deteriorating law and order. Church leaders had called on Rajnath on February 5.
There are about 220 churches in Delhi, of which 50 are Catholic. Before Christmas last year, the police had sent a circular to all churches to install CCTV cameras.
"Delhi police had requested us to install CCTV cameras and offered help if any church could not install them because of resource constraints," said Fr Savarimuthu Sankar, the spokesperson of the Delhi Catholic Archdiocese.
"Police were also deployed but they were withdrawn after a while. We understand the police's limitations."
Fr Sankar hoped the proposed security measures would instil a sense of security and confidence in the Christian community.
There were five attacks on churches in the two months before the Delhi elections. In one case, vandals broke into the sanctum sanctorum and stole a chalice.
Minorities are believed to have voted in large numbers for the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in Delhi amid incidents of "reconversion" by Sangh Parivar outfits in Uttar Pradesh and the attacks on Delhi churches.
This is believed to have tipped the scales in favour of Arvind Kejriwal in a big way, and led to the BJP's first Assembly poll drubbing since Modi took over as Prime Minister last May.
According to a Lokniti-CSDS survey, 77 per cent Muslims and 57 per cent Sikhs voted for the AAP. Christians are also believed to have voted for Kejriwal in large numbers.