The St Peters Church along with the Bombay Catjolioc Sabha organised a large vigil and Candle Prayer March in Bandra yesterday, January 10. The silent protest against the BMC’s views to unilaterally acquire land for over a century with the Catholic and Jewish communities began at 5.00 pm starting from St. Peter’s Church Square and concluded at Seaside Cemetery, in protest against the unjustified methods of the BMC to acquire Cemetery Land.
A statement issued by the Sabha meanwhile said that while there are available options (for the road widening) like developing the existing partly developed 18.3 mtrs ( Nirmala Colony DP Road ) behind the Jewish Cemetery by clearing any bottlenecks as the same is also meeting the Kadeshwari Mandir Marg and parallel to this Marg, the BMChas inexplicably shosen this spot.
Father Reuben Tellis, the Parish Priest of Mt. Carmel Church said the opening prayers at the beginning of the march. Fr. Lancy Pinto said the prayers at the Cemetery . Fr. Frazer Mascarenhas, Parish Priest of St. Peters Church gave a brief background of the issue and why we should unite and raise our voices . Mr. Abraham Yehuda representing the Jewish Cemetery thanked Fr. Frazer and the Christian Community in standing in solidarity with them as the Jewish Cemetery has also received a similar notice to acquire their Cemetery too.
The gathering resolved that we will not allow the BMC authorities to rest until this unjust ‘Grave’ notice and the amendments to the DP plan are not withdrawn unconditionally. Besides, the community will keep a watch and has concerned authorities to immediately resolve the issue. If unresolved, other options to agitate with other Citizens and Communities across the Mumbai City would be explored. The statement, that also thanked the Bandra police officials for arrangements for the protest was issued by Dolphy D’souza President, Bombay Catholic Sabha
Adv. Godfrey Pimenta, Founder & Trustee Watchdog Foundation
Bombay Catholic Sabha rebuts BJP MLA Shelar’s claims
Meanwhile, the Free Press Journal reports that a tweet by local Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) member of the Legislative Assembly Ashish Shelar about the withdrawal of a notice about the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) taking possession of St. Peter’s Sea Side Cemetery on Kadeshwari Road in Bandra is “misleading” said Bombay Catholic Sabha president Dolphy D’Souza. “Being an advocate he is supposed to be well acquainted with law of the land,” Mr D’Souza said while rebutting Mr Shelar’s claim. The Church was not served the withdrawal notice, rebuttal reveals
The rebuttal issued by both D’Souza and Adv Godfrey Pimenta of Watchdog Foundation asks how an assistant municipal commissioner of H/West ward can withdraw what a senior officer, joint municipal commissioner (zone III), has done. It also points out that the withdrawal is actually about keeping things in abeyance. The press release issued by Mr D’Souza also highlighted that the church was not served the withdrawal notice that was given to a local politician who waved it at a meeting held on Friday to protest the land acquisition notice.
The Free Press Journal had in its report highlighted that the notice was being withdrawn by a junior officer. “We wanted to correct the misleading information that is being spread. In Government protocol, certain officers have the power to issue certain types of notices. A junior cannot withdraw what a senior has done. As such the notice of alleged withdrawal signed by assistant municipal commissioner is improper, unauthorized and not in consonance with the provisions of law.
St. Peter’s Church had not received till Saturday afternoon,” said Mr D’Souza. Fr. Frazer Mascarenhas, the parish priest of St. Peter’s Church, confirmed that neither had he been handed the notice nor was it stuck on the walls of the cemetery till Saturday evening, as had been done in the case of the earlier notice.
Ms Shelar chose not to comment on this development to FPJ. “No comment! I’m with the community & will be! Supporting their demand & will do my best to achieve!” he said in an SMS reply to a question by The Free Press Journal.
Municipal Commissioner Iqbal Chahal too, has not if d not responded to the newspaper. Queries as to why the church did not receive the notice while local politicians had it and how a junior officer can stay what a senior has done remain unanswered.