Vandals dislodged and damaged four statues of Mother Mary outside the St Mary Church, located in the Pratabpura area in Agra. (HT Photo)
Unidentified people on Thursday damaged two statues of Mother Mary and wrapped a dog chain around one of them in an early morning vandalism at a church in Agra, the latest attack on minority-run institutions in the country.
The incident comes barely weeks after a 71-year-old nun was raped in a West Bengal convent, a case that shook the nation and triggered widespread protests.
Police said the vandals dislodged two statues of Mother Mary and damaged two others at the St Mary’s Church, located in the Pratabpura area in the city of the Taj Mahal.
“The intruders intended to hurt our religious sentiments as they placed the head of child Jesus Christ in the hand of Mother Mary and attached a dog chain to the neck,” said Father Moon Lazarus, the head priest of the church. The persons also broke window panes of a car parked inside the church premises.
Shocked over the incident, Christians held a prayer meeting and took out a candle march on Thursday evening to protest the attack.
“Christians of all denominations will gather at the church on Friday to decide the future course of action,” said Andrew Prakash, national vice-president of the Isai Mahasangh.
The incident occurred at around 3.30 am, according to a complaint lodged with police by Father Lazarus.
The priest said the he was awakened by the car’s alarm going off after it was damaged but the intruders managed to escape after jumping over the perimeter wall.
Senior police officials including the senior superintendent of police Rajesh D Modak visited the church premises and assured action against the culprits.
The minority commission also sought a report from the administration over the incident.
Father Savarimuthu, spokesperson of the Delhi Catholic Archdiocese, described the incident as very “disturbing” and said, “This is happening every month. We appeal to (the) state and central governments to see to it that safety of minorities is ensured.”
(With agency inputs)