Tuesday 18 June 2024

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Politics | Lok Sabha '99

Six priests beaten up, Opp suspects Cong hand


A shocking incident of mercilessly beating up six priests and a sacristanin the village belonging to chief minister Luizinho Faleiro in Goa, by aChristian youth, has suddenly taken a political overtone with theopposition parties alleging hand of the Congress leaders behind it.

Chief minister Luizinho Faleiro however has vehemently denied the charge,stating that it was an unfortunate act of a mad man beating the priests,one of whom was counselling the assailant for the psychological illness heis believed to be suffering from.

As polling for the two parliamentary seats in Goa ended on Sunday, theincident took place the following night, when one Herman Corriea enteredthe church premises in Navelim and beat up six priests, with a wooden plankhaving nails affixed on it, forcefully breaking open the door of thepastoral house adjacent to the church.

The police have arrested the village youth and hospitalised him along withthe injured priests as the irate villagers earlier beat up the youth andalso damaged his house property. The incident took place at around 9 pm,when all the priests were sitting together at a dining table.

The Nationalist Congress Party as well as the Bharatiya Janata Party, whilecondemning the incident, have alleged hand of the ruling Congress partyinto it. Dr Wilfred de Souza, who was contesting as the NCP candidate fromSouth Goa, has in fact blamed industries minister Churchill Alemao forplanning this attack.

R S Sahay, the director general of police, has however flayed theallegation, claiming that Correia was mentally unsound and was beingcounselled regularly by one of the priests, who was also beaten up. Fr JoseAnton Costa, the parish priest, however declines to comment on it,demanding a fair investigation.

Manohar Parrikar, the state opposition leader belonging to the BJP, howeverrefuses to digest the theory. "It is like calling the dog mad and shootinghim", he says, while recalling threats given by Alemao during electioncampaign to teach the priests a lesson for not campaigning for the Congressthis time.

While the opposition leader has demanded independent enquiry into itthrough the agency like the CBI, de Souza feels Faleiro should immediatelyresign, owing responsibility for the attack and paving way for fair andimpartial enquiry.

De Souza however denies the story that several priests were campaigning forhim and not the Congress as has been the practice in Goa. "What is wrong ifthey appealed during sermons to elect educated and clean people", asks he,who has consistently projected himself as the educated candidate againstsemi-literate Alemao.

The chief minister however says he feels sorry for the parties like the BJPand the NCP for unnecessarily politicising the issue, when no injuredpriest has alleged that it was a politically motivated attack. He says evenarchbishop Raul Gonsalves was with him throughout the night and later inthe day, accompanying the priests.

"In fact politicians should keep away from such dastardly incidents", hefeels, while warning that the peace-loving Goans would not tolerate suchcommunal and fanatic organisations to run the state.

But opposition parties insist that the police should not leave the angle ofAlemao threatening in public to teach the priests a lesson soon afterelections. Alemao however was not available for comments since he is outstation.

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