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Mumbai church attack: Maharashtra govt suspects 'political hand'

mumbai Updated: Mar 23, 2015 20:39 IST
New Panvel church attack


The Maharashtra government on Monday said that it suspects a "political hand" in the recent attack on a church in Navi Mumbai, even as the Opposition members walked out of the assembly in protest against the incident.

Minority affairs minister Eknath Khadse said in the legislative assembly on Monday that the state government was conducting a probe into the incident and culprits would be dealt with sternly.

"A foreign hand, anti-social elements or a political person may be involved in the incident. A political hand cannot be ruled out. Detailed facts would be revealed before the end of the ongoing legislature session," Khadse said.

The minister said his government was committed to protect the lives and properties of citizens.

"We will take care to ensure that such inappropriate incidents do not take place in future," he said.

Chhagan Bhujbal of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) took objection to the reply, saying that the government was insensitive to the issue and was politicising it.

Earlier, the issue was raised in the Lower House through an adjournment notice given by Leader of Opposition Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil and NCP legislator Jitendra Awhad.

While giving the adjournment notice, Awhad demanded a discussion on the incident saying there was a sense of fear among the minorities.

Speaker Haribhau Bagde rejected the opposition's demand for discussion and asked the government to make a detailed statement on the matter.

Later, the Opposition members staged a walkout to protest the attack on the church.

According to police, the attack was carried out by two masked persons who were riding pillion on a motorcycle in the wee hours of Saturday when they hurled stones at the Saint George Catholic church located near a bridge in New Panvel.

In the incident, the covering glass outside the statue of Saint George got damaged.

There was no breakthrough in the probe though police were grilling some suspects.

AAP demands speedy probe

Condemning the attack on a church, the Aam Aadmi Party said it seems to be a deliberate attempt to vitiate the social atmosphere and polarise society on communal lines.

A team of local AAP activists submitted a letter of complaint to the Khandeshwar police and demanded a time-bound probe into the attack.

The team also visited the church and met the local church authorities and the parish community members, a statement said.

The incident is the latest in a series of similar such attacks across the country on churches, which have created a sense of fear and isolation among the minority communities, it said.

Both the central and state governments should jointly work towards swiftly nabbing the culprits and thus reassure minority communities, the party said.