The Catholic priest in Goa, who warned people against voting for the BJP, called the party’s president Amit Shah a devil and blamed former chief minister Manohar Parrikar’s cancer on the “wrath of god”, has apologised after a probe by the Election Commission against him.
The Bharatiya Janata Party had approached the poll body seeking action against Fr Conceição da Silva, saying he was “creating an atmosphere of hate and fear against a particular political party and a specific religion.”
Acting on a complaint filed by the BJP, the district election officer has censured da Silva in an order and advised him to confine himself to his priestly duties as per customs and traditions.
“This office has received a complaint about hate speech by the parish priest of Our Lady of Snows Church Raia, Salcete… Additional District Magistrate Agnelo Fernandes Agnelo Fernandes has conducted an inquiry in the matter. The parish priest has admitted that he had made such a statement…” the order read.
Also read: Goa priest blames Parrikar’s cancer on ‘wrath of god’, BJP demands probe
South Goa district electoral officer Ajit Roy has said the priest has also regretted his statement and apologised for hurting the sentiments of the people.
“The priest has tendered his unconditional apology, the apology has been accepted and has been strongly warned not to repeat such things in the future and has been advised to confine himself to his priestly duties as per customs and traditions, failing which strict action will be taken by law,” Roy said.
In an undated recording which surfaced on social media, Fr Conceição da Silva is heard saying that “those who earn the wrath of God are always punished”. Referring to the allegedly unheeded protests against coal dust at Goa’s port town of Vasco da Gama over the last two years, the priest said that the decision to continue coal handling led to Parrikar’s suffering.
“For 500 years when the Portuguese were here, Hindus, Christians and Muslims lived as brothers. Isn’t it? But when the BJP party came, they caused divisions. They have one Amit Shah — a big devil. Thousands of Muslim youth were burned. A member of Parliament was burnt when Modi was the chief minister (of Gujarat). This is the BJP party,” the priest is also heard saying.
The Election Commission has also given a ‘humble call’ to all religious leaders, sect priests, community leaders and others in Goa to refrain from “making hate speech or any aggressive statements which had the potential to communal and caste feelings and making any appeal on caste or communal feelings.”
Earlier, the office of Goa’s archbishop issued a statement regretting the statement, saying priests are “advised not to mention in public any names of candidates or of political parties.”
“It is a matter of regret that, nonetheless, there are a few instances when this particular advice is not followed. The concerned priest, in this case, has been cautioned to refrain from making such statements. We sincerely regret any pain or hurt that these statements may have caused,” the archdiocese said in a statement.
Apr 17, 2019 11:50 IST