Tension prevailed at Tarapet in the city on the intervening night of Sunday and Monday when the Vijayawada Municipal Corporation (VMC) authorities faced resistance from the clergy and lay people for demolishing a portion of the Roman Catholic church St. Peter's Cathedral as part of the road-widening project. The church was built more than 100 years ago and is of undisputed cultural and artistic value.
Hundreds of Catholics, supported by opposition parties, staged a protest at the church on Monday morning even as VMC staff returned to the site to complete the demolition process. They wondered why the VMC failed to serve a notice on church authorities before embarking on pulling down the structure.
Sources said VMC officials and workers came with earth-movers and demolished a wall and a complex adjacent to the church. The Catholic fraternity opposed the move arguing that the alignment of the road should have been changed as the religious structure, which was built in 1882, has a historical significance.
"Taking the shrine's history and prominence into consideration, VMC officials should leave the structure untouched. They carried out the demolition without informing the church authorities or serving a notice," said Samuel, a member of the church.
Locals, led by YSRCP corporators Shaik Asif and Bolla Vijay Kumar, demanded an explanation from the VMC for taking up the exercise without informing the church authorities.
The church management alleged that the officials have insulted Catholics by damaging some idols at the Cathedral during the demolition work. The police later took a few agitators into custody and released them later. A police picket has been arranged at the place.
(Times of India)