Priest on attempted murder charge

February 28, 2012 by  
Filed under Goa, India, newsletter-india, Persecution

Priest on attempted murder chargeGoa, February 28, 2012: Around 1,500 others also detained after policemen attacked.

A Goa parish priest and more than 1,500 parishioners have been charged with attempted murder after six policemen were attacked and injured on Saturday night.

Enraged parishioners attacked the policemen after they turned up at around 9pm at St Francis Xavier Church in Velim to talk to Father Romano Gonsalves.

The crowd thought the policemen had come to try and intimidate the parish priest who was raided recently by income-tax and police officials.

Fr Gonsalves tried to shield the policemen in his bedroom but the parishioners dragged them out and beat them up.

“The attack was unprovoked. The unarmed policemen had gone there officially to conduct a pre-poll assessment,” Superintendent of Police Atmaram Deshpande said.

The priest said the policemen had come to his church, around 50km south of the state capital Panaji, to inquire whether the parishioners would be boycotting upcoming elections.

The earlier raid had sparked a public outcry and parishioners had demanded an apology, threatening to boycott assembly polls on March 3 if they did not get one.

“I told them I could only speak for myself,” the priest said.

Thinking the priest was in trouble, church workers rang the bell, which attracted a crowd attending an election rally, the priest said.

Senior Congress leader Shantaram Naik criticized the police for the way they handled the situation.

“They had no business to go there at night,” he said.

Forest Minister Filipe Neri Rodrigues, who is contesting the seat, also condemned the police.

They had acted in bad faith and committed gross violations, all the more worse since a tense situation was sorting itself out and it being so close to polling day, he said.

– ucan

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