Government authorities in Karnataka remove 15 crosses from hilltop

Published Wednesday, September 30, 2020  |  
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In a six-hour operation led by government officials on September 23, 15 crosses were removed from Susai Paliya Hill in Chikkaballapur, Karnataka.

The operation was conducted following the order from Karnataka High Court that found the crosses illegally placed on government land without prior approval from authorities.

More than 300 police and revenue officials gathered at St. Joseph's Church in Susai Palya and removed a 32-meter cross that was on the hilltop along with 14 other seven-meter crosses that were on the way to the hilltop.

According to local parish priest Father Antony Britto Rajan, "The government officials acted arbitrarily without any prior notice."

"We have been using the space for more than five decades for praying the Way of the Cross, especially during the Lenten season," he told UCA News.

The local parish mentioned that people from other religions also visited the hill for prayer but "there was no problem from anybody."

Though the police officials claimed to be following the court orders, they did not show any such order, said Father Rajan.

The Christian leader plans to appeal against the court decision and take legal action to restore the crosses. But, he admits that finding the necessary documents may be difficult.

Peter Machado, Archbishop of Bangalore, told AsiaNews.it that the removal of crosses was a ""selective action carried out [by the authorities] against Christians in the current climate of religious intolerance."

"It is Gomala (pasture) land," said the archbishop, "but in addition to the crosses, there are Hindu temples, which have not been touched."

As per local Catholics, the area that occupied the crosses was around the eight acres of land used for sacred purposes, which also included Hindu temples.

In a similar event in March, police and revenue officers in Karnataka had removed 14 crosses and a statue of Christ from a three-decade-old burial place in Doddasagarahalli village on allegations that Christians were infringing the government land.