Panaji, Jul 15: A 50-year-old man was arrested by a Special Investigation Team (SIT) of the Goa Police in connection a series of cases of alleged desecration of holy crosses in South Goa district. The accused confessed to vandalising 12 crosses in South Goa in the past fortnight, the police officer claimed.
Francis Pereira, a native of Curchorem village in South Goa, was arrested last night while he was trying to desecrate a cross at Curtorim village, nearly 20 kms from his resident.
The Christan religious symbol in at least 12 places and a temple had been vandalised in South Goa district since July 1.
"A police team spotted Pereira trying to damage the Cross. However, on seeing the policemen, he tried to escape from the spot. After a brief chase, police nabbed him," the senior police officer told PTI.
"During the preliminary questioning, he admitted to having carried out the desecration of crosses," he said.
The police officer expressed confidence that with the arrest of Pereira, other cases of desecration of crosses in the recent past, would also be cracked.
The police officer said the motive behind the desecrations was yet to be known as the interrogation of the accused was still on.
Police are conducting a search at Pereira's residence in Curchorem, where he lives with his family.
The official said that the accused was a convict in an attempt to murder case in 2000, and is now out of jail after serving a sentence.
Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar said he would address the media over the issue this afternoon.
Goa witnessed a number of attacks on religious symbols, especially of the Christian community, in the last fortnight.
Besides the crosses, around 50 gravestones were also damaged in Curchorem village last Sunday.
The Goa Church had earlier expressed "deep pain" over the incidents of desecration of crosses and felt that these incidents seemed to be designed by vested interests to provoke communal discord in the state, which is known for religious tolerance.
In view of the incidents of defiling of religious symbols, Parrikar had last week held a high a high-level meeting with police officials.
To nab the accused at the earliest Parrikar asked all the police stations in the state to form special investigation teams.