Francis Pereira, 50, held for vandalising scores of crosses in south Goa over the last fortnight, admits he has been destroying crosses since 2003
The Goa police has arrested a 50-year-old man in connection with the alleged desecration of holy crosses in South Goa district, it said on Saturday. "The accused, Francis Pereira, said he 'casually' vandalised 12 crosses over the last fortnight with no intention to create an enmity," said a senior police officer.
The Christian religious symbol in at least 12 places and a temple had been vandalised in the south Goa district since July 1. The police hoped that with Pereira's arrest, they would be able to crack over 150 cases of desecration of religious places reported from the state in the last 15 years.
The Special Investigation Team (SIT) of Goa police arrested Pereira, a resident of Curchorem village, late on Friday night. "A police team spotted Pereira attempting to damage a cross at Curtorim village. He tried to flee, but we managed to nab him," DGP Muktesh Chander said.
SP (south) Arvind Gawas said, "Pereira, who was convicted in an attempt to murder case earlier, had been living at Curchorem village after serving the jail term."
Talking to the media, Pereira said, "I did it casually. Nothing was planned. I used to see a cross and hit it," he said.
Meanwhile, Goa CM Manohar Parrikar said, "As of now it (the series of holy cross desecrations) appears to be a solo act. But we can't totally rule out involvement of others."
The police have recorded a video confession, in which Pereira has said that he broke Catholic crosses in order to "relieve the spirits which are trapped in them". Pereira admitted that he has been vandalising crosses since 2003.
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