Unidentified people vandalised a Catholic church in West Bengal’s Nadia district, police said on Friday, barely 25km from another Christian institution where a nun was gang-raped a couple of months ago.
The vandalism of the St Thomas Catholic Church at Taherpur on Thursday night was the latest in a string of attacks on minority-run institutions across the country which opposition parties and activists attribute to fringe right-wing groups.
The spate of attacks had prompted Prime Minister Narendra to break a long silence and assure that his BJP-led government would protect life and property of minorities in the country.
Police said that the altar of the Taherpur church was found broken outside the building though the vandals left all valuables untouched.
A police official involved in the investigations told Hindustan Times that they are not ruling out the vandalism angle.
“The act of pulling out the altar and smashing it raises doubts about the intention of the attackers,” he said, refusing to be identified as he is not authorised to speak to the media.
Police said that though the church is located in a densely populated area nobody heard any “suspicious sounds at night”.
Two Christian priests, apart from a doctor and two nurses working for a temporary medical camp in the area, were also staying at an adjacent building but they too denied hearing anything, police added.
Police are trying to find out how the vandals entered the church as the main door and windows and grills were locked from inside and there were visible signs of a break-in.
The church doors are locked for the night after the caretaker, Tapan Mondal, rings a ceremonial bell every evening.
Police quoted Mondal as saying that there was nobody inside when he locked it on Thursday evening.
“We have received a complaint from the church authorities. We have registered a case of attempt of theft, but we are probing all angles,” said the police official.
However, the church does not have CCTV cameras installed, police added.
In the case of the rape and loot at the Ranaghat Convent of Jesus and Mary, footage from CCTV had helped police to identify the accused and arrest them from different places.
In the Ranaghat incident on March 21 – which had shocked the nation and even reached the Vatican -- the criminals had looted Rs 8 lakh after raping a 71-year old missionary.
Read:Another church vandalised in Delhi's Vasant Kunj