By Francis Rodrigues
In the third attack in 10 days on Christian institutions in Karnataka, a drunken youth vandalized a Catholic Church in Mangalore last night, destroying religious articles, Church sources said.
Fr Shibi Puthiyara, an assistant priest at St Alphonsa’s Church, said he was having dinner with some people from a hostel when the man identified as Shivu Muniappa barged into the refectory around 8:45pm.
Muniappa then entered the Church and destroyed religious articles before being overpowered.
“The hostel people closed the doors of the church and caught the culprit,” said Fr Puthiyara.
The attacker damaged statues of Jesus and Mary and threw the monstrance, Scripture and vestments to the ground, said a parishioner identified only as Elizabeth, who lives next door to the Syro-Malabar Church in Belthangady diocese.
Golvin, a youth from the Church hostel, said Muniappa pretended to be insane by undressing and trying to put on Mass vestments.
“But the way he tried to cover his face while photographing shows that he is not mentally unsound.”
As the parish priest Fr Sebastian Chelakapally is out of station, Fr Puthiyara lodged a complaint with the police.
Police Commissioner Seemanth Kumar, who visited the Church, said the attacker was intoxicated and would be interrogated after medical tests.
“We will also try to investigate any possible link between this event and the two recent instances of attacks on Christian institutions,” he said.
“We have arranged for security of all the major Churches and Christian institutions of the city from this … night.”
On October 23, two Catholic educational institutions in Mangalore were attacked by unidentified groups.
The southern state has witnessed such attacks since 2008, when pro-Hindu Bharathiya Janata Party (Indian Peoples’ Party) assumed power.
A youth leader, Roshan Castelino, expressed apprehension that “the investigative departments will frame the culprit as mentally unsound and connect it to earlier instances to downplay the seriousness of the problem.”
Last week 12 prelates of the state urged the chief minister to withdraw what he called frivolous cases registered against more than 150 Christian youths.