Monday, February 27, 2006 00:04 IST
Three Christian priests associated with a local charity organisation in Nere village near Panvel were allegedly attacked by Bajrang Dal activists on Sunday.
All three - Rev K M Philip, Rev Biju Samuel and Rev Reggie Thomas - sustained injuries and have been admitted to MGM Hospital, Kamothe, where they are also undergoing tests to rule out internal injuries.
The incident occurred around 6.30pm on Sunday, when the three missionaries attached to Social and Evangelical Association for Love (SEAL), were leaving the premises for a prayer meeting.
"The attack was pre-planned and the mob mercilessly beat them up with crow bars, inflicting injuries on their head, shoulders, back and legs," alleged Abraham Mathai, general secretary, All-India Christian Council, who visited the priests in the hospital late in the evening.
Mathai said the local volunteers of Bajrang Dal had been harassing the priests ever since they set up the charity organisation two years ago for destitutes and the downtrodden in the rural area.
"Despite attacks in the past, the Bajrang Dal activists have been getting away in the past because the police do not apply sections like 153 (a) for causing enmity between two communities, which will attract harsh punishment," said Mathai.
The Bajrang Dal representatives claimed that the Christian priests had got into the habit of blaming the Hindu group for anything.
"Even if a priest gets a stomach ache, he blames the Bajrang Dal for it," said Shankar Gaikar, state convenor of Bajrang Dal, adding that the incident could be a sporadic reaction of the local community which was affected by the activities of the missionaries.
Meanwhile, the police are yet to register a formal complaint.
"The priests were rushed directly to the hospital and we have sent our officer to there to file the complaint," said in-charge PI Pradeep Mane.
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