Navi Mumbai church attack case not communal, 4 held: Fadnavis

  • HT Correspondents, Navi Mumbai
  • Updated: Mar 24, 2015 21:34 IST

Four men, including one who ran an illegal gambling centre, have been arrested for their alleged involvement in the attack on St George Church in New Panvel on Saturday, chief minister Devendra Fadnavis told the state Assembly on Tuesday, indicating that prima facie there is no communal angle to the incident.

Khandeshwar police in Raigad district arrested four suspects.

"Four persons have been arrested in connection with the attack on the Saint George Catholic church," Navi Mumbai police commissioner KL Prasad told PTI.

The IPS officer, however, refused to share further details at the moment.

Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis on Tuesday informed the Maharashtra assembly that four suspects were arrested in the church attack and indicated that prima-facie the incident was not a communal one.

Fadnavis told the House that Rahul Patil, 39, Anil Chavan, 27, Laxman Sugavekar, 21, and Mohhemmed Shaikh, 30, have been arrested for allegedly throwing stones at a statue outside the church.

Afraid that the police might raid his gambling centre following a complaint by the church management, Patil planned the attack, said Fadnavis. He then got the other three to help him in his plan, said the CM.

Fadnavis had assured a delegation of various organisations of the Christian community on Monday that the culprits will be caught at the earliest.

Under fire from the opposition, the CM on Monday had set a 48 hour deadline to police to nab the culprits.

The Opposition members had on Monday walked out of the assembly in protest against the incident.

Police had announced a reward of Rs 10,000 for any information leading to the arrest of the accused.

According to Khandeshwar police, the attack was carried out by two masked persons, who were riding pillion on a motorcycle at around 1.30am on 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.

The trio, comprising the biker and the two pillion riders, were covering their faces, a police official said.

The main accused, reportedly, had some personal enmity with the church authorities and so he had deployed three persons to attack the church. The police have not revealed the identity of the accused so far.

An offence has been registered against the unidentified men under sections 295 (injuring or defiling a place of worship with intent to insult the religion of any class) and 427 (mischief) of the IPC, police said.

The church was built in 2007 and can accommodate over 800 people for prayer.

(With inputs from PTI)

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