Kolkata: A group of miscreants hurled crude bombs, ransacked parked vehicles and vandalised a church in Bengal’s East Midnapore district on December 29.
The incident happened in the remote Bhagwanpur area of the district, about 130km from Kolkata. Three men have been arrested following a complaint lodged by the authorities of the Apostolic Reconciliation Church.
District Superintendent of Police V Solomon Nesakumar, said, “So far, three of the seven men named in the FIR have been arrested. We are carrying out raids and hopeful of nabbing the remaining accused.”
(A damaged car near the church)
It was learnt that on December 29, around 2pm when mass was underway at the church, about 10 men gathered in the area. The goons first allegedly attacked vehicles parked in the vicinity, before hurling crude bombs at Pastor Anup Kumar Ghosh.
Some of the panicked worshippers were beaten up when they tried to flee. Later, the men entered the church, vandalised properties and left the place after threatening the authorities with dire consequences.
Ghosh told News18, “We built a new church at Shivrampur village under Bhagwanpur police station in East Midnapore. On December 29, we organised a launch ceremony of our church where nearly 800 people had gathered. Suddenly, a group of men came and went on a rampage. They damaged everything that belonged to the church.
(Broken chairs inside the church)
"One of them hurled two crude bombs at me, but I had a narrow escape. My staff were assaulted when they came to rescue me. I was surrounded by the men who were raising ‘Jai Shri Ram’ slogans. At one point, I was fearing for my life. Then my daughter confronted the attackers. In the meantime, the local police was informed and soon after, the men fled from the scene.”
Another senior member of the church, Kamal Jana, was also attacked by the goons.
Shibu Thomas, founder of welfare group, Persecution Relief, told News18, “It is pathetic. In the last three years, we have recorded more than 1,500 such cases across the country. Now, it is happening in Bengal and Karnataka. Soon after the incident happened, the church authorities got in touch with me.
"I think Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has had a word with the pastor and assured of support. She also promised to help monetarily to redo the church.”