Group of 'right-wing activists' likely behind attack on Church goers during Sunday Mass in Kolhapur's Kowad village

A group of 20-25 people attending the Sunday mass in Kolhapur's Kowad village suffered grievous injuries after they were attacked with sharp-edged weapons by about 10 to 15 unidentified men. The incident, which took place three days before Christmas, has sent shockwaves across different parts of the country and the social media, with many Twitteratis condemning it as a "lynch-mass".

According to PTI, the people were attending the mass at the residence of Bhimsen Chavan in Kowad village, located on the Karnataka border, when the incident happened around noon, a police official said. According to a report by News18, the attack left 12 injured, out of which four were seriously hurt and admitted to a private hospital in Belgavi district. The victims also included women. According to police, many were caught unawares during the congregational prayer and attacked with hockey sticks, bricks and cleavers. Officers also said that the attackers had their faces covered to avoid being identified. As per the police, Chavan regularly conducts the Sunday prayer at his residence. A group of 10 to 15 masked men armed with swords, iron rods and glass bottles reached his residence on motorcycles, he said.

Kolhapur Superintendent of Police Abhinav Deshmukh had told The Times of India that the attack could have been orchestrated by right-wing groups. "We are looking at all angles and investigation is underway accordingly," he was quoted saying. The accused had also attacked some more people in Dindalkop and Talguli villages while running towards Belagavi.  The police were recording the statements of people who had seen the attackers, he said.

 Group of right-wing activists likely behind attack on Church goers during Sunday Mass in Kolhapurs Kowad village

One of those injured in the attack on Sunday. Image courtesy: @NehemiahHRD

"They attacked the congregation and threw stones on those attending the prayer. The masked men tried to barge into the house. But some women, who were part of the prayer meet, forced the attackers to back off by throwing chilly powder on them," PTI reported the officials as saying. Senior police officials were keeping a close watch in the area where the situation was now under control, he said. The exact reason behind the attack was not yet known, but prima facie it seems the intention was to disturb the prayer, the official said. The CCTV footage of the area was also being scanned, he said, and expressed hope that the attackers would be nabbed soon.

Meanwhile, a case has been registered against the accused under sections 143 (punishment), 147 (punishment for rioting), 148 (rioting, armed with deadly weapon), 149 (every member of unlawful assembly guilty of offence committed in prosecution of common object), and 452 (house-trespass after preparation for hurt, assault or wrongful restraint) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

The attackers have also been booked under IPC sections 295 (injuring or defiling place of worship with intent to insult the religion of any class), 307 (attempt to murder), 326 (voluntarily causing grievous hurt by dangerous weapons or means), 323 (punishment for voluntarily causing hurt), and 427 (mischief causing damage to the amount of fifty rupees).

With inputs from agencies

Updated Date: Dec 25, 2018 18:16:50 IST