India    STATUES VANDALISED IN KERALA STATE
Church and political leaders in the state of Kerala have sought government action to check the growing vandalism of religious statues in the southern Indian state.
   Unidentified persons destroyed statues of the Blessed Mother at two shrines in Trivandrum Syro-Malankara archdiocese's Podiyattuvila parish on Friday evening.
   Earlier last week, suspected communists destroyed three statues of Sri Narayana Guru, a leader of low-caste Hindus, in Kollam (formerly Quilon) district.
   Observing "an alarming trend" of statue destruction in the state, Archbishop Cyril Baselios Malancharuvil of Trivandrum urged the government to enforce the law and take measures against the vandals, who he said are on a "destruction spree" to hurt all religions.
   Monsignor Koshy Varghese Kizhakeveettil, Trivandrum archdiocesan vicar general said that the vandalised Catholic statues include a statue of the Blessed Mother carrying the infant Jesus and one of the Blessed Mother alone.
   Meanwhile Church and minority leaders have complained that vandalizing statues has increased in the state due to growing intolerance toward minorities and to politicians mixing religion with politics.
   Church leaders also accused the police of inaction over their complaints. Father George Edathala, a parish priest in Palghat, said that the police have failed to arrest those who destroyed some statues in the central Kerala diocese last August.
   
UCAN 15/2/00

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