Four people have been arrested in connection with the church vandalisation in New Panvel. According to the home department, the accused attacked St George’s Church as they believed that people associated with the church had informed the police about their criminal activities.
Speaking in the legislative assembly, where the issue of the attack had been raised and members had demanded the arrest of the people involved, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said that the main accused, Rahul Ramesh Patil (39), who operated an illegal gambling racket in the vicinity of the church, assumed that the police raided his business after getting a tip-off from people attached to the church.
“Patil encouraged the other three accused Anilchandra Chavan (27), Laxman Prasad Sugvekar (21) and Mohammad Tabrek Sheikh (20) to pelt stones at the church on the day of the incident,” said Fadnavis, who had given the Navi Mumbai police 48 hours on Monday to nab the culprits. The CM added that all the accused have confessed to the crime.
Speaking to mid-day, on the sidelines of the legislative session, Fadnavis said that no religious motive has been established behind the act. “This is an act of revenge. Patil was angry and he instigated the trio to vandalise the church in the wee hours of Saturday.”
The attack was carried out around 1.30 am by the three accused, who hurled stones at the church. In the incident, the glass covering the statue of Saint George got damaged. A CCTV camera captured the attack, and the footage was handed over to the police.
A delegation of various Christian organisations, including the National Christian Council of India, Mumbai Catholic Sabha and United Christian Council of Mumbai, had met the CM seeking action in the attack and initiate preventive measures.