MUMBAI (Joseph Dias) — The government has in principle agreed to grant permission for Good Friday worship to be held at August Kranti Maidan, which was earlier withheld by Mr. AB Kulkarni, the Maharashtra Cultural Affairs Secretary, the competent authority. The Catholic Secular Forum (CSF) had taken strong exception to this, especially since the service has been attended by thousands for the last over 55 years with no interruption. The CSF general secretary, Joseph Dias, along with other community NGOs had taken up the issue with various ministers and city parliamentarians (Mr. Milind Deora, Mr. Eknath Gaikwad..) and others. Today, he along with the priests of Saint Stephen’s Church, Fr. Ernest Fernandes, Fr. Avin Franklin and activists, met the chief secretary, Mr. Ratnakar Gaikwad and Cultural Affairs Secretary, Mr. AB Kulkarni to get the necessary official permissions.
Earlier, on memoranda presented by the Church and The CSF, the chief minister and the minorities affairs minister, Naseem Khan intervened to resolve the issue. Joseph Dias said that ” until last year, we had received permission and had been holding the services. In view of an amicable solution being evolved, The CSF has called off its protests, which were planned, as the denial of permission had hurt the religious sentiments of the community. This denial is a clear violation of our fundamental rights and an encroachment on the freedom of religion”, The CSF general secretary concluded. The Church and the activists are getting the formalities completed.
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