Two unidentified men armed with sharp-edged weapons barged into a church in Chhattisgarh’s Bastar district and allegedly set ablaze a Bible and other articles besides thrashing the pastor and his pregnant wife, police said on Tuesday.
The incident took place on Sunday evening at village Karanji Matagudi Para under Parpa police station limits.
“As per the written complaint of Pastor Deenbandhu Sameli, an FIR has been lodged in this connection. Continuous patrolling is being done in the region to nab the attackers. We are pretty sure that the culprits will be arrested soon,” Bastar Superintendent of Police RN Dash told PTI.
As per the complaint, two men identified themselves as belonging to some other denomination of the Christian community and expressed their desire to pray in the church.
After entering inside the premises, they launched an attack on the pastor and poured inflammable liquid on the Holy Bible, furniture and other religious material kept inside and set them ablaze.
“After getting information about the incident, we immediately rushed to the spot and deployed a policeman for security throughout the night,” Dash said.
A case under sections 295 (injuring or defiling place of worship), 392 (robbery), 452 (house-trespass after preparation for hurt), 435 (mischief by fire or explosive substance), 323 (punishment for voluntarily causing hurt) and 34 (common intention) of the IPC was registered against the unidentified persons, he added.
Meanwhile, president of Chhattisgarh’s Christian Forum Arun Pannalal alleged that the attack was carried out by the workers of Bajrang Dal and accused police of “covering up” the incident.
“This was third attack on the religious premises of Christian community in the region. It was carried out by the goons of Bajrang dal. Police are trying to cover it up,” Pannalal claimed.
The attackers were armed with a knife, hammer, sword and petrol.
After breaking locks of church premises, they barged inside and poured petrol on the Bible, other holy books, furniture and mike set and torched them, he said.
They also poured petrol on pastor Deenanath and his pregnant wife, Meena and tried to set them afire but somehow they managed to escape, Pannalal added.
Police personnel immediately reached the spot after getting report of the incident and deployed night gaurds there, he added.