MUMBAI: At least 12 people were injured in an attack on a church at Kowad near Kolhapur, about 450 km from Mumbai, police said here on Tuesday. The Church was attacked during a prayer meet on Sunday.
Those present during the attack claimed that the miscreants were shouting slogans of “Jai Bhavani, Jai Shivaji” as they unleashed the violence. Also, both ends of the road were blocked while the attack took place, they said.
According to the case registered with the Chandgad police, some 10-15 assailants, who have not been identified so far, attacked one Bhimsen Ganpati Chavan’s home on Kowad-Dundge road. The house, on the Karnataka border, is also used as a place of worship and is registered as the “New Life Fellowship” church.
Around 40 people were attending the Sunday mass when they were attacked with stones, iron rods, swords, sticks and beer bottles by the assailants who had come in cars and on bikes. The attackers struck around noon and fled into Karnataka, the complaint said.
But some women, who were part of the prayer meet, forced the attackers to back off by throwing chilli powder on them, PTI said.
Of the 12 injured, five are grievously hurt. They have been admitted to a hospital in Belgaum and are in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). A case of rioting and attempt to murder has been registered against unidentified persons, police said.
Though the purpose of the attack is yet to be ascertained, the attackers are suspected to have come from Karnataka, said Kolhapur Police Superintendent Abhinav Deshmukh. Five teams of investigators have been immediately sent to Belgaum and other places in Karnataka, he added.
According to Anil Bhonsale, the pastor of the Church, the attackers wanted to disturb the prayers which have been going on since past 21 years. “They accused us of conversions before attacking us. The attack lasted for about half an hour,” he said.
(With PTI inputs)