Father Wilson Patole seeks police protection to avoid future attacks.
A priest and several people gathered for prayers were beaten up by a mob of 20-25 people on the premises of a church in Pimprigaon on Sunday. Protesting against the church that has recently come up in the area, the mob allegedly asked the priest to close down the place and move elsewhere with immediate effect. The priest has demanded police security to counter any future attack.
The incident occurred around 6 pm on Sunday and a complaint was lodged by the priest late in the evening with Pimpri police chowky.
Father Wilson Patole, 48, was left with a swollen eye after a man punched him on the face "several times". He also suffered bruises on his shoulders. After targeting Patole, the mob attacked the rest of the around 40-50 people who had gathered at the church for evening prayers. The mob reportedly left after the priest called up the police, who arrived 15 minutes later.
"Around 6 pm, the mob barged into the church premises and smashed the banners put up inside. At that time, prayers were going on. The mob then stood outside the church premises," said Father Patole, adding: "They called us at the gate of the church for discussion. As soon as we reached there, they started beating us up. They were not carrying sticks or arms."
Father Patole said the mob was demanding that the prayer be stopped and the church closed down. "They did not give us any notice. If they do not want us here, they should have told us. We would have moved out," he said.
Father Patole alleged that though there were 20-25 people who attacked them, the Pimpri police lodged complaint against only two. "First they refused to lodge a complaint. Then they lodged a complaint against only two persons," he said.
Father Patole said: "We are seeking action in the matter so that such attacks do not occur in future. We do not want revenge. We are peace-loving people. The police should not arrest the persons involved, but only take deterrent action."
When contacted, DCP Shahaji Umap said: "A non-cognisable offence against two persons has been registered with the Pimpri police. We have not arrested them, but have taken preventive action."
As for providing security, Umap said: "If the priest approaches us, we will take appropriate step in the matter. There is nothing political in this...the local people were objecting to the church coming up in their area."
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