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Taherpur's St Thomas Church Vandalized

2015-07-10 22:00

The holy tabernacle lying on the pathway to the church

Miscreants strewn the holy tabernacle and other items on the pathway

NfN NETWORK

Taherpur (Nadia), July 10: Unidentified miscreants vandalized a church, desecrated the sacrament and removed the tabernacle in Nadia’s Taherpur last night causing outrage and anguish among the people of Christian community.

The incident occurred at the St ThomasChurch in Christian Para area of Barasat gram panchayat in Taherur, around 85-km from Calcutta. The church has no guard despite it is quite vulnerable to any attack being located at the outskirt of the village enclaved by jungle and paddy field. Local civic police personnel only guard the church in night, who were, however, not present last night due to rain.

The church under Krishnanagar diocese was originally set up in 1955. It was shifted to a new building in 2000.

The incident comes weeks after an elderly nun was raped in a convent school in Ranaghat during a robbery on the night of March 14 this year. The St ThomasChurch is barely 10-km away from the Ranaghat convent.

The National capital had also witnessed at least four cases of attacks on Christian places of worship during December 2014 to January 2015.

However, the Barasat village where the St Thomas church is located has no such past history, except a case of theft around 12 years ago. Around 400 Christian families live in harmony with Hindu families for over 70 years, in the area political where political power largely shared between Trinamul Congress and CPI (M).

Nevertheless, the miscreants had ransacked the church, broken window panes before removing the tabernacle. They brought the tabernacle outside of the church, broken it and threw it over a pavement. The miscreants had also damaged an offering box inside the church, but left with no valuables.

[The Christians consider the tabernacle as the portable dwelling place of Divine presence of Jesus. The sacrament is the effacious sign of Grace instituted by Jesus by which divine life is dispensed]

The way the church has been ransacked and the tabernacle was damaged, it has made the members of the Christian community to believe the incident was an attack on their religious faith.

They have also alleged it as a desperate attempt to unleash a terror among the members of the minority communities.

Father Satish Makal, one of the Paris priests, said: “The incident has no resemblance of any robbery attempt. It appears to be a careful attempt to hurt our sentiment, our emotion and our faith. I am terrified. The attack on the elderly nun in the Ranaghat convent school had tested our patience. I would only pray for good sense among all”.

Secretary of Taherpur unit of Bangiyo Christiyo Pariseba John Mondal said: “If the motive of the miscreants was to rob the church, they would not leave the five offering boxes containing cash, untouched. The attack carried out to hurt religious faith of the minority”.

The incident has also rattled the district police administration as it appears to be still in dark.  No arrest was done till report last came in.

SP Nadia Bharat Lal Meena, SDPO Ranaghat Indrajit Basu visited the spot and joined investigation.

Superintendant of police, Nadia Bharat Lal Meena appears to be perplexed about the incident. He said: “We have started investigation. It appears that the miscreants are local people. It is clear that there was intrusion inside the church, however, no visible sign of any forced entry was found. Some holy items have been damaged. Nevertheless, the motive of the miscreants is not clear. We are checking all the possible aspects behind the attack”.

According to local sources, the incident came to light at around 4.45 on Friday morning, when the Church’s elderly caretaker Tapan Mandal opened the prayer hall to switch off the lights and to ring the morning bell. Mandal is responsible for switch on and the church lights on every evening and on next morning every day.

“Soon after I entered inside the church I was shocked to notice that the tabernacle is missing. I come up on the Dias to find out that sacrament is damaged. The desk, holding the organ is ransacked, window panes are broken and a door on the left side of the prayer hall is open. I called the staff from church’s clinic and then called the church council member Sachin Biswas, who called the police”, said Tapan Mandal.

“I was amused to find out that how the door which I bolted from inside on last evening can be opened. I found no sign of forced entry at the door panels”, he added.

Nevertheless, Mandal refused to admit any lapse on his part in locking the door which could be utilized by the miscreants to enter inside.

Investigating officers said: “It appears that the miscreants were hiding inside. They most probably entered in last evening when Mandal entered to switch on the church lights”.

SP Nadia Bharat Lal Meena who visited the church also thinks so. “There was no sign of forced entry from outside, which strongly indicates presence of the miscreants inside”.

Sachin Biswas, an LIC agent who is also the council member of the church said: “It appears that miscreants are quite accustomed about the church. Apart from hurting our faith, they had a motive to rob the tabernacle. They thought that it could be made of very costly metal”.

After the initial investigation, the sleuths also think that the miscreants were most probably misled.

An officer said: “The tabernacle is actually made of brass, but it has golden metallic outside look that made the miscreants booby. So when they realized that it is not a valuable catch, they broken it in anger and thrown outside”.

The police have, meanwhile suspect some local painters engaged by the church authorities to paint the church building.

An officer of Taherpur police said: “At least ten painters worked here during December 2014. They were engaged by the church and had accessed every area inside the church. During the painting works, they closely watched the tabernacle and though it could be a costly one”.

The Police also examining the role of some local youths of other community who were admonished by a church official during a football match recently in the adjacent ground. 

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