The Catholic priest who had allegedly made statements against Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP president Amit Shah and late Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar on Tuesday tendered an “unconditional apology” after he was found guilty of violating the poll code.
The priest, Fr Conceicao D’Silva, faced a probe by election officials after a video of his controversial speech went viral on social media. Stung by the remarks, the BJP had Sunday lodged a complaint against him with poll authorities.
South Goa District Returning Officer Ajit Roy, in an order issued, said D’Silva, the Parish Priest of Our Lady of Snows Church, has admitted to making the statements during an inquiry conducted by Additional District Magistrate Agnelo Fernandes.
“The Parish Priest has admitted that he had made statements. However, he regrets it and has tendered his unconditional apology for hurting sentiments of general public,” Mr Roy said.
“As the priest has tendered an unconditional apology, the apology has been accepted and he has been strongly warned not to repeat such things in future.
He has been advised to confine himself to priestly duties as per customs and traditions, failing which strict action will be taken as per law,” the order read.
The returning officer asked politicians, election candidates, priests, community leaders and heads of associations to desist from making hate speeches.
“A humble call is given to all religious leaders, priests, community leaders, heads of associations, leaders of political parties, candidates and members of general public to refrain from making any hate speech and aggressive statements,” he said.
They should avoid statements which have the potential to inflame communal or caste feelings, Roy said. “They should also avoid using any place of religious worshiplike mosques, churches, temples etc as a forum for election propoganda,” he said.
A resident of South Goa and the BJP had filed two separate complaints against the priest for making statements against PM Modi, Mr Shah and Parrikar.
The Goa Church, which wields considerable influence among community members, had Monday expressed regret over the priest’s statement and asked him to refrain from making such remarks.
The model code of conduct is in force in Goa for the elections to the two Lok Sabha constituencies and four assembly bypolls.
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