Sanal Edamaruku is facing jail time for suggesting that the “holy water” dripping from a statue of Christ in Mumbai is actually raw sewage seeping from a leaky drain.
Some Catholics believed that the water running over the statue’s feet was a miracle, a sign from God. Believers flocked to the church and drank the water; they believed it would cure their ailments. In March, after being invited by a New Delhi TV studio to speculate on the source of the water, Edamaruku, the president of the Indian Rationalist Association, visited the Church of Our Lady of Velankanni to investigate the claim.
“I had a close look at a nearby washroom and the drainage system that passed underneath the cross,” he told the New Scientist. The water, he explained, was not heaven-sent; rather, it was being diverted from a clogged washroom drain, then seeping through a nail hole at the base of the statue.
Edamaruku, who was subsequently charged with “deliberately hurting religious feelings,” has reportedly fled for Finland to avoid arrest. But he has no regrets: “Why would one not intervene,” he told the London-based magazine, “when somebody gives gullible people sewage to drink?”