Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Nadia church attacked

Statesman News Service

JALALKHALI (Nadia), Dec. 4. - A group of armed men sneaked into the Sadhu Luis Catholic Church at Jalalkhali, Nadia, 10 km from the district headquarters early this morning and burnt a copy of the Holy Bible besides looting a crown of Virgin Mary, a chain and a rosary – all made of silver. The attackers also burnt some Holy Communions which are served among the congregation in the course of Holy Mass, in memory of Christ’s last supper.

The Holy Mass was not held in the church today following the incident. Fr Antony Kariakatyl, one of the priests of the church, said: "It is an unfortunate incident as Christmas is approaching. The nature of the vandalism only proves that the attackers had some ulterior motive. They have not looted any valuable items but burnt a part of the Holy Bible (182 to 250 pages) and some Holy Communions. They might have had an intention to hamper the Christmas programmes."

He added: "The attackers entered the church after breaking open the front door, probably in the wee hours of this morning. They sneaked into the sacristy room and broke open two almirahs. The incident was first noticed by our catechist Mr Sujan Khan when he went to the church for ringing the bell at 5.30 a.m. He then informed the neighbours and me of the matter. I then lodged an FIR with the Kotwali police regarding the matter".

Tension gripped the area soon after news of the attack spread. Locals are clueless about the incident.

It is the second attack on churches in Nadia in the past two years. Earlier, the Maliapota Catholic Church near the Indo-Bangla border in Tehatta PS area was attacked by a group of 40 armed men on the Christmas night of 2002.
The secretary to the bishop, Mr Subhash Barui, said: "It is more an attack on our basic faith rather than on the church. We suspect an ulterior motive." The additional SP, Nadia, Mr Biswarup Ghosh, visited the church and detained a person for interrogation. The SP, Nadia, Mr R Rajasekharan, said: "Though the motive behind the incident is yet to be ascertained, no communal angle is suspected. There was a confrontation between the church authorities and members of a local club over drinking of alcohol on the church premises during Durga puja immersion. The police are looking for a man who is absconding."