Indian Christians hoping for solution to lack of burial ground for them

Christians in Borivli East in Mumbai, India, are hoping that the government in the state of Maharashtra will provide them with more burial spaces for their community so that they will no longer be forced to shell out a lot of money to bury their dead in the west.

(REUTERS / Parth Sanyal)A man walks inside a graveyard in Indian city of Kolkata November 27, 2006.

In June, Christ the King Church parish priest Fr. Terence Murray noticed that he had conducted nine funerals versus zero baptism within just five months. He was bothered that the Christian community in Borivli East had no cemeteries allotted for them, Times of India reported.

"What disturbed me was that there are no cemeteries for the Christian community on the eastern flank of the western suburbs. Each family was forced to hire expensive hearses and buses to travel to cemeteries in the west for burial," said Father Murray. "In fact IC Church in Borivli West tries to accommodate our deceased in its graveyard, but it has a large geriatric population of its own. How long will it be before space is saturated?"

Bombay Catholic Sabha's former president, Gordon D'Souza, said the cancellation of the allotment of cemetery land for Christians is a discriminatory move. He said this act was a violation of Christians' fundamental rights, and it forced bereaved families to suffer even more than the grief they were originally feeling.

Fortunately, the Bombay high court criticized Maharashtra and the dairy development board for scrapping plans for a burial ground for Christians in Aarey. Authorities in the state have already been called to appear before the court.

Meanwhile, the U.S. has said it will award almost $500,000 to any NGO that will bring forward proposals that promote religious freedom in India. It is looking for a plan that will create early warning systems to reduce the rate of "religiously-motivated violence and discrimination," Hindustan Times detailed.

In addition, the applicants should also come up with proposals to educate journalists and the civil society about safeguarding religious liberty, especially for religious minorities. The plan should also include documentation and systems that report incidents of religious freedom violations to authorities.