Bandra Catholics to move HC against BMC
Residents allege civic body’s demolition of the 122-year-old cross was illegal as it stands on private property

After filing a police complaint against the BMC’s alleged demolition of a ‘legal’ cross in H (West) ward Bandra, the local Catholic community is set to move Bombay High Court challenging the BMC’s move. Along with the cross on Saturday, BMC officials also demolished a temple in the area.

According to the BMC, they had invited suggestions and objections from residents regarding 532 illegal B category structures across the city, to which they received 212 responses. Only after these hearings did the BMC finalise the demolition list of illegal shrines in the city. B category pertains to illegal structures that interfere with traffic or development plans. Out of the 532 shrines, about 30 are from Bandra. The demolished cross is one of 6 on the demolition list.

“All orders passed by the Supreme Court only apply to shrines and religious structures on public property. The orders do not extend to structures on private property. By taking action, by giving a wrong reference number of the PIL BMC’s ward officer exceeded his jurisdiction,” said Advocate Godfrey Pimenta, executive committee member, Bombay Catholic Sabha. The cross razed on D’Monte Street was abutting a house in Gaothan area near Bazaar Road.

“These crosses were earlier within Catholic properties. With the advent of BMC and creation of roads in Bandra, a lot of areas were claimed by the civic body as setback areas, bringing these crosses out onto the roads. However, these crosses have their own City Survey numbers and are displayed on all the BMC and old maps of Bandra. The crosses hold a special place in the hearts of Bandraiites and they are also a part of history and heritage of Bandra, just like the Gaothans,” said Anil Joesph, a Bandra activist.

The community will seek Ashish Shelar, BJP president of Mumbai unit’s intervention in the matter on Tuesday. On Wednesday, they also plan to stage a protest at the H (west) ward office, while the BMC is set to demolish additional structures in the area, including 5 crosses and 25 temples. For now, the locals have temporarily placed the uprooted white cross back in its place