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Congregation twist to raid

Krishnagar, Jan. 27: More than a month after the daring raid on midnight mass in a church at Maliapota village in Nadia, police claimed to have nearly cracked the case and indicated there was evidence that a section of the congregation had “helped” the looters.

“The 30-member police team formed immediately after the incident raided several villages in the area and rounded up many of those who took part in the looting,” district superintendent of police B.B. Chakraborty said at a news conference here today.

Nineteen people have been arrested for involvement in the raid over the past few weeks. Six others were arrested just after the incident.

The district police chief said Rs 17,700 in cash, an electronic synthesiser, cameras, wristwatches and a portion of the jewellery looted have been recovered. The special police team led by additional superintendent of police P.K. Ghosh had combed the Tehatta area, under which falls Maliapota, Chapra and Nakasipara.

The precision with which the midnight marauders operated suggested the involvement of some members in the congregation at the Maliapota Catholic Church.

“Some of them provided misleading and false information to the police after the incident,” said a member of the investigating team.

The church authorities did not rule out the possibility of the involvement of some of the villagers attending the mass.

“We did not check who was coming in. But I can tell you there were some bad elements in the congregation that night,” said Father T.J. Abraham, the chief priest.

The cash and valuables recovered would be returned to the church through the court, Chakraborty said. It was a case of “dacoity” and there were no communal links to it, he added. “Almost all the men arrested so far are notorious criminals.”

The police added that though no Bangladeshi has been arrested so far, the raid could not have been possible without their help.

Police sources said the church authorities had drawn a large sum of money from United Bank of India’s Chapra branch a day before Christmas. The police are still not sure about the exact amount the dacoits had decamped with.

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