Police across India Reinforce Security for Christmas

To ensure a peaceful Yuletide celebration for Christians countrywide, police and security forces in India have beefed up their security, especially in violence-ridden Orissa and Karnataka.

In Bangalore, Karnataka, churches have installed CCTVs to ensure heightened security even as Christians have been urged to celebrate a low-profile Christmas. The growing metropolis recently witnessed a series of attacks on churches and Christians on allegations of "forced conversions."

Fr. Foustine Lobo, coordinator at the Archdiocese of Bangalore, told the TOI on Sunday that special security measures were in place for the holiday week. "We've hired security guards and will also be in touch with the police."

Police commissioner Shankar Bidari said police permission was not necessary to celebrate the festival. "Devotees may observe mass in their respective churches or indoors without permission. There won't be any restrictions on time."

Churches have been asked to contact area police stations should they feel a need for security.

In Kolkata, Bishop Rev. Ashoke Biswas says police have already collected necessary information regarding the layout of churches and the gathering.

"Respective churches have been asked by us to take necessary measures to ensure that everything goes smoothly. Police have surveyed the premises and gathered information. I am sure they will take measures to ensure security for those attending mass," he described.

"We shall not restrict entry, but take special precautions to ensure that nothing goes wrong. We have contacted the local police station and there will be two rounds of screening before people are allowed in," Biswas of St. Paul's Cathedral said.

In Orissa, where violence on Christians paralyzed the small community, the government has dispatched more Central Para-Military forces. A proposed statewide shutdown was officially called off with concerns that the bandh would trigger more attacks against Christians.

"We have kept a close watch on roads, outside churches and increased night patrolling ensuring that no expense is spared for a peaceful Christmas," said Deputy Inspector General (Southern Police Range) RP Koche.

Five companies of CRPF have been deployed at Baliguda followed by four in Railika, G Udaygiri, three each in Tikabali, Bramunigaon, and Serangada, two in Tumulibandha and Daringbadi, and one in Belaghar, he said.