NEW DELHI: Keeping in mind the criticism it faced over attacks on Christian institutions through December 2014 to February this year, Delhi Police has made elaborate security plans for such institutions, including churches, for this festive season.
To ensure that no untoward incident occurs at any of the 362 Christian institutions ahead of New Year, Delhi Police Commissioner B S Bassi has deployed 1,493 police personnel 24x7 outside these institutions. Early this year, Bassi was summoned by Prime Minister Narendra Modi after half-a-dozen cases of alleged theft and vandalism were reported at churches.
The attacks were attributed to BJP’s rise to power at the Centre. Even US President Barack Obama had pinpointed ‘religious intolerance’ in India. Though he made no specific mention of BJP being responsible, his comments were widely read as a veiled critique of the Modi government.
Delhi Police has identified 243 churches, 11 prayer places, 90 missionary schools and colleges, 10 hospitals and eight offices and hostels in Delhi that are run by Christians.
South Delhi has 40 churches, seven prayers places, 17 schools and colleges, three hospitals and a hostel, which will be guarded round-the-clock by 476 police personnel. In South East Delhi, 33 churches, 15 schools and colleges, five hospitals and two offices will be under the watch of 385 police personnel. South West Delhi’s 33 churches will be secured by 80 police personnel. Lutyens’ Delhi’s nine churches, seven colleges and schools and a hostel will be guarded by 35 police personnel.
While 54 police personnel will secure 14 churches, 12 colleges and schools and a hospital in North Delhi, 70 men in khaki will guard 13 churches, two prayer places, four colleges and schools, a hospital and a hostel in North West Delhi. Another 54 security officers have been deployed outside 17 churches and a school in North East Delhi.
In East Delhi’s 27 churches, seven schools and colleges and three missionary offices will be secured by 111 police personnel. In Central Delhi, there are 10 churches, nine colleges and schools and a prayer place, which will be watched by 78 police officials. In West Delhi, 62 police personnel have been deployed to secure 30 churches, four schools and colleges and a prayer place, while 88 officials will look after 17 churches and five schools and colleges in Outer Delhi.
Just ahead of the Delhi Assembly elections in February 2015, there were half a dozen incidents of attacks on churches. Though police claimed the incidents were of theft, Christian organisations blamed the NDA government for it. These attacks also figured in the Delhi Assembly elections where the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) blamed the Central government for it. After AAP’s landslide victory in the polls, Catholic Archbishop Anil Joseph Thomas Couto celebrated BJP’s defeat.