Hyderabad: The Catholics and Protestants in Hyderabad are fighting over a dead man’s body after a church refused permission to bury Arokianathan Fernandez in the church graveyard.

Fernandez’s mother and father were both buried in the graveyard that comes under the Wesley Church in Secunderabad. However, the authorities of Wesley Church have denied permission to bury Fernandez’ body. Incidentally, the Wesley Church comes under the Church of South India (CSI), which belongs to the Baptist/Protestant sect, while Arokianathan Fernandez’s family were Roman Catholics. Several people from the community have come forth alleging that this denial is a sign of Protestant discrimination against Roman Catholics.

A video (in possession with NewsMeter) of the members of the CSI and the Roman Catholics shows both sections arguing over the graveyard territory, while the body awaits its final resting place. “It is a Christian’s right to have a respectful burial in a place of their choice. His father and mother were buried there. However, the committee members of the Wesley Church decided to not let their son be buried near them, citing a ‘law’, which they refuse to show as well,” alleged S. Arokiadass Lazar, a social worker associated with Dalit and Weaker Sections Welfare Association.

The deceased, who is a resident of Gautamnagar, has been awaiting burial since 8.30 a.m on 12 March, said Lazar. “Even last month, the CSI committee had allowed the burial of a Roman Catholic woman in the Wesley cemetery. But now they apparently have a problem,” said the social worker.

The Wesley Church allegedly asked for documents of Arokianathan’s parents. While the concerned people were able to provide proof that his mother was buried in the Wesley graveyard in 2019, they were unable to find the papers for his father J. Simon, who passed away in 1984. “This is like the CAA, NRC, NPR issue, but within the Church,” alleged Lazar.

When asked about the denial of permission to bury Arokianathan, assistant pastor of Wesley Church, Parmanand, said, “They are not our members. So we cannot give permission for this.” One of the church committee members said, “There is a place in Yapral, which is non-denominated with four-five acres of land. Any Christian can be buried there. Why don’t you go to that place and conduct the burial?”

Late Thursday evening, the family finally managed to arrange a place of burial for the deceased in Ammaguda, which is around 15kms away from the city.

Amritha Mohan

Amritha Mohan is a reporter at the NewsMeter. Shortly after completing her Master's in Communication at the University of Hyderabad, she began teaching courses on media and culture as a guest lecturer at the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication, North-Eastern Hill University (NEHU), Shillong. Amritha has previously interned with news organisations such as Greater Kashmir and Newslaundry. A lover of travel and photography, she spends most of her time planning road trips to the North-East. Nothing makes her happier than a green turf and a team to play football with. She primarily reports on education, tech, human-interesting and critical features.

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