Hundreds of Indian Christians protest as fire destroys church



NEW DELHI, (AFP) - Indian Police said Tuesday they were investigating a blaze that devastated a church in the Delhi, as hundreds of Christians took to the streets to protest.

A church spokesman said there was a strong smell of kerosene after the fire that destroyed most of Saint Sebastian s, one of Delhi s biggest churches.

On Monday evening, protesters held a candle light vigil and on Tuesday morning, some 200 members of various churches blocked traffic outside the church.

"The electrical mains unit is intact, so there could not have been a short circuit."

Police said they had registered a case of "mischief by fire" and were questioning various people, including the church watchman.

"The police have assured us that they will constitute a special team to investigate as early as possible and nab the culprits," Delhi Archbishop Anil Couto told the NDTV news network.

Around 1,500 members of Delhi s Christian community protested outside the city s police headquarters on Tuesday, shouting slogans and carrying placards to demand action over the fire.

Fears of religious polarisation have grown in India since the right-wing Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party stormed to power in May.

Parliamentarian Derek O Brien called on the authorities to act swiftly.

"Horrified. Angry. Saddened with news of Delhi church burnt/destroyed," he tweeted.

Just 2.3 percent of India s total population of 1.2 billion are Christian
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About Waheed Gul

Blogger, Independent Security Researcher
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