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Church Attack in Odisha

Wednesday, April 11, 2018, 16:37 (IST)

Vandals have attacked a church in Odisha on the late night of Easter Sunday, breaking two statues of Mary and setting fire to the sacristy and storeroom of a parish in Rourkela Diocese.

The attackers are unidentified and the leaders of St Thomas Catholic Church in Salangabahal have not linked the attacks with Hindu radical violence.

"We have no clue who was behind the attacks," Bishop Kishore Kumar Kujur of Rourkela told ucanews.com.

The investigation is in progress and the police hope to arrest the vandals soon.

A Marian statue was removed and thrown into a nearby river and a statue of the infant Jesus was destroyed.

Catholics "never had any history of communal disharmony" in its 46 years of the parish. "We live in peace and celebrate festivals of all religions," said Fr Petrus Joseph Barwa.

A statement read that "there seems to be a systematic premeditated ploy to disturb the peace of the people who have been living in age old harmony with each other in these villages. It appears that the anti-social elements targeted the holy places of two communities seeking to create a communal divide."

Church officials have accused the pro-Hindu parties who run the state and of their apathy in dealing such cases.