The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Christians seek cover for border churches

Alarmed at the attack on Maliapota church in Nadia’s Tehatta area, Christians called upon the administration to beef up security arrangements in front of all churches near the Indo-Bangla border area.

Talking to reporters at St Teresa’s Church in Entally, members of Bangiya Christiya Pariseba (BCP), who had visited the spot on Friday, demanded the immediate posting of adequate police personnel to bring back a sense of security among the terror-stricken locals, priests and nuns of the Maliapota area.

Three days after the incident, in which a group of 40 armed border bandits stormed the Maliapota Catholic Church and went on a looting spree, taking about 1,200 devotees hostage, the local residents were gradually regaining confidence. They placed their grievances before the four-member BCP team which visited the church and spoke to the local people.

In the meantime, while addressing a rally at Amtala in South 24-Parganas, CPM state secretary Anil Biswas said the incident was “not as serious as it was being reported to be”.

“Police have already netted three of the culprits and the looted articles will soon be recovered,” he said. Eight persons have been rounded up so far with one more arrest taking place on Saturday.

After visiting the place, the BCP team members said police inaction had helped the miscreants walk off scot-free. “Everyone was of the opinion that had the police mustered courage, they could have easily arrested some of the miscreants,” said Herod Mullick, general secretary of the organisation.

The team also held a meeting with the inspector-general of police (south Bengal) N.R. Das. “The inspector-general to some extent admitted the allegation of police inaction. He assured us of taking proper action,” added Mullick.

Mullick alleged that a member of the Maliapota church, Jeromio Mandal, was beaten up by the police that night when he had requested the constables of Boro Andulia outpost to come to the church’s rescue.

Father Sukumar Mandal, one of the priests beaten up by the armed gangsters, said a police team visited the church on Saturday.

“Additional superintendent of police Pallab Ghosh and the two officers-in-charge of Chapra and Tehatta police stations came here and told us to give a detailed description of the attack,” said Mandal. “The police assured us that they would recover the looted articles soon,” he added.

The police team on Saturday searched a paddy field adjacent to the church. “Possibly, the dacoits escaped through the field. Border Security Force personnel have been asked to seal the Sutia border, which is only three km from the church,” said a police officer.

nCivic store burgled: Burglars raided the central store-house of Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC) at Entally late on Friday and decamped with computer parts and floppies worth Rs 10,000. According to a complaint lodged with the Entally police, the thieves entered by breaking open a window. No arrest has been made.

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