The local people beat the police team and wounded all of them.
Posted on February 27, 2012, 7:53 AM
|St. Francis Xavier Church|
The Goa police yesterday booked a Catholic priest and some 1,500 unidentified people for alleged attempt to murder a police team.
A clash on Saturday night between police and parishioners of St. Francis Xavier Church, Velim, near Goa state capital of Panaji, ended in the hospitalization of six people, five of them police personnel.
A six-member police team had gone to the church around 9 pm for what it said was to make some inquiries.
This was the same parish where income tax officials conducted a raid on February 6 evoking widespread condemnation.
Two wounded constables are still under observation at a hospital in Margao, the state’s commercial capital. One of them had suffered a skull fracture in the clash.
Two members of the Central Reserved Police Force and an official of the Criminal Investigation Department were discharged yesterday.
The village continued to be tense even on Sunday as people gathered near the church after hearing about the police case against the priest and others.
However, regular Sunday Masses were conducted at the church yesterday.
The police maintained that their people had gone to the church to get an update on the income tax department’s earlier raid on the residence of parish priest Fr. Romano Gonsalves.
The parishioners said the raid had lowered the dignity of the priest. They alleged their pastor was targeted for making a pronouncement about how to vote in an upcoming election.
The election commission asked the tax officials to apologize and return 6,000 rupees they had taken from the priest after a probe proved they conducted the raid on a false report.
The police said their fact-finding team had gone to the church on Saturday night after the election commission asked them for an update on the situation in the village for its meeting with the police scheduled for Sunday.
The police said the commission had received warnings that the parishioners would boycott the March 3 assembly elections unless the raiding party apologized unconditionally and divulged the name of the person who had complained against the pastor.
When the police team arrived at night, some parishioners rang the church bell to gather people. A crowd at an election meeting nearby rushed to the church on hearing the bells.
In the ensuing pitched battle, the local people beat the police team and wounded five of them. A civilian was also wounded.
Another police team from Cuncolim rescued their colleagues and rushed the injured to hospital.
Sources close to the parish priest alleged the police team demanded to know which political party the priest and his parishioners were backing.
The police admitted they made a mistake to go to the priest at night, especially in view of the tense situation in the village.
While the police maintained the attack was unprovoked, the villagers said the police had no business to come to the church at night and their intention was to intimidate the priest, who had been a target of politicians in the past.