Navi Mumbai: The Navi Mumbai police arrested four suspects on Tuesday in connection with the stoning on the Saint George Church on March 21 around 1.30 pm in Panvel.
One of the accused arrested by the Navi Mumbai police.
During the police interrogation the four accused identified as Rahul Patil (39), Laxman Sugwekar (21), Anil Chauhan (27) and Mohammed Sheikh (20) confessed to committing the crime.
According to officials, Rahul runs an online lottery business along with other illegal activities like gambling near the church premises. On March 19, the city police while conducting a surprise raid, busted Rahul's illegal activities. To which the accused thought that the police must have raided his place at the behest of the Church.
Fateh Singh Patil, Additional Commissioner of Police, Navi Mumbai, said, "Two days before the police raid, some people from the church had told Rahul and his company to avoid illegal activities near the church. As a result of which, post our raid, the accused felt that the church was responsible for informing the police. The accused, then, decided to avenge the raid with the help of his other three friends-Laxman, Anil and Mohammed."
As per their plan, the main accused Rahul gave his bike to Laxman, who is his relative. On March 21, the trio, comprising the biker and the two pillion riders, covered their faces and executed the plan by pelting 3 stones on the covering glass outside the statue of Saint George.
"We arrested all four accused with the help of CCTV footage and information received after investigating in nearby areas. The case does not veer towards any communal or political angle. In this case, the accused had a misunderstanding with the church authorities," Fateh Singh added.
An offence has been registered against the four under sections 295 (injuring or defiling a place of worship with intent to insult the religion of any class) and 427 (mischief) of the Indian Penal Code
The church was built in 2007 and can accommodate over 800 people for prayer.
With PTI inputs