Mumbai: Parishioners from Kandivli church take to the streets to save graveyard

A human chain protest saw members of Our Lady of Remedy Church at Poisar unite to save the graveyard and an ancient cross; but, BMC says they are not taking them

There were shouts of ‘No more land for development at the cost of the common man’, ‘Our graves and cross shall not go’ amidst hymns being sung as the parishioners of Our Lady of Remedy Church at Poisar, Kandivli West gathered yesterday morning. There were around 3,000 people – old parishioners, current ones and Catholics from across the city — gathered to ‘fight against the builder-politician-BMC nexus’ as they claimed.

The parishioners allege that the BMC wants to take the area of half the graves. Pics/Tehniyat Fatima
The parishioners allege that the BMC wants to take the area of half the graves. Pics/Tehniyat Fatima

Ulrich D’Souza, a parishioner said, “We had managed to stop them in 2013. Again in April we received another notice, which mentions taking a part of our graveyard and an ancient cross. A hotel, general store and flower seller’s shop were bulldozed. We will not let them do the same to our cross and graves.” The hotel, general store and flower seller’s shop were illegal but on church land.

Guardians United with Save our Land (SOUL), Watchdog Foundation, Church in the City, St Vincent De Paul Political and Civic Cell led a human chain formation. Dolphy D’Souza from Save Our Land said, “This has been a systematic targeting of church lands in the past few years. The authorities feel they can target a peaceful community, which is not organised. But thanks to their consistent harassment we are now organised. We will go to the ward office in the coming days if this demand doesn’t stop.”

The cross is around 400 years old and the parish has 105 graves out of which the BMC will take half allege parishioners. Rennie D’Souza who lives in Orlem, Malad has his parents buried in the cemetery. He said, “I don’t want to have to burn candles on the road. My parents’ resting place cannot be desecrated like this.”

Ewart Rebello, of the Kandivli parish added, “My family grave is not going. But I don’t trust the authorities; if we give an inch they will take a yard.”

BMC says
Sahebrao Gaikwad, Additional Municipal Commissioner of R-South Ward, said, “We are not taking the graveyard or the cross now. Only the land where we demolished the shops will be merged into SV Road.”

Deputy Municipal Commissioner Ashok Khaire said, “We have to work as per the court order. We are not taking the cross and graveyard land. All documentation will be presented in court.”

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