Maharashtra opposition walks out over Church attack

Mumbai: The attack on a church in Navi Mumbai two days ago snowballed into a major political issue with the opposition Congress and Nationalist Congress Party staging a walkout in the Maharashtra assembly here on Monday.

The government said it suspected a political hand in the incident, which sparked off widespread protests among Christians in the state.

On March 21, at least three unidentified people hurled stones at the St. George Catholic Church in New Panvel area of Navi Mumbai.

Minority Affairs Minister Eknath Khadse told the house that foreign hand, anti-social elements or a political person may be involved. A political hand cannot be ruled out. Detailed facts will be revealed before the end of the legislature session.

He also said the government would take care to ensure that such incidents are prevented in future, but senior NCP leader objected and alleged that the government was "insensitive" to the issue and accused it of politicising the matter.

Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has already assured probe into the incident.

The issue was raised through an adjournment notice by Leader of Opposition Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil (Congress) and NCP legislator Jitendra Awhad, who demanded a discussion.

Speaker Haribhau Bagade rejected the demand for a discussion but asked the government to make a detailed statement in the matter.

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

Meanwhile, Navi Mumbai Police Commissioner K.L. Prasad said police were scanning the CCTV footage of the incident and would nab the culprits.

The Aam Aadmi Party urged the state and central governments to act fast on the issue that has created a fear psychosis and isolated the Christian community.

In the context of the recent attacks on churches across the country, this seems to be a deliberate attempt to vitiate the social atmosphere and polarise society on communal lines, the AAP said in a statement on Monday.

Meanwhile, several Christian groups have called for a shutdown of all Catholic schools in the city on Wednesday as a mark of protest against the incident.

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