CHENNAI: An unauthorised multi-tier vault was sealed in the premises of St Alphonsa Syro Malabar Catholic Church at Shankar Nagar in southern Chennai after residents complained that dead bodies were cremated within the premises. Official sources said when they inspected the premises on Wednesday, they found that a 75-year-old man was recently buried in the vault. The officials exhumed the body, and later handed it over to the deceased's family members.
The issue cropped up after some Hindutva groups brought it to the attention of authorities.
“The residents had complained to the groups that a week ago there was funeral service at the church, but they did not notice the dead body coming out of the premises. Since the church did not have a graveyard, they grew suspicious about an illegal burial site,” said a police officer.
When a team of police and revenue officials conducted a check in the church premises they found a concrete vault with three rows and four columns and exhumed the body of one Lonappan, who was buried around a week ago. Police sources added that the priest was out of station, when the team inspected the site.
“The church did not have proper permission to set up multi-tier vault in the premises,” said the police officer. The revenue officials handed over the body to his family and directed them to bury it in approved sites. Pallavaram tahsildar Hemamalini sealed the premises and further investigations are on.
A similar case was reported in February when a multi-tier vault was found in the premises of St Joseph’s Hospice at Salavakkam in the neighbouring Kancheepuram district.