Watchman didn’t set Ratlam church on fire: Catholic body


Bhopal : The Catholic Bishops Council here Tuesday alleged that the police were shielding the real culprits who set fire to an 86-year-old church in Madhya Pradesh’s Ratlam district and said the watchman who had been arrested was innocent.

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“The police, in a bid to save the culprits, have come out with a concocted story that the church watchman set the church on fire because he was not getting enough salary,” the council spokesman Father Anand Muttangal told IANS Tuesday.

Noel Pare, the watchman at the St. Bartholomew Church, was arrested Monday evening and police said he set the church ablaze as he was unhappy with the church authorities.

“He took the extreme step after being scolded by the church authorities,” a police official had said.

The St Bartholomew Church was Sunday burnt down allegedly by activists of the Bajrang Dal and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP). But Deputy Inspector General (Ratlam range) Varun Kapoor said that circumstantial evidence indicated that watchman Pare was behind the crime.

“Pare has confessed before the police that his intention was not to set the church on fire. He simply wanted the authorities to have a bad name for not having managed the premises properly. He had bought one litre of kerosene and the shopkeeper too has identified Pare,” Kapoor said.

Kapoor added that according to prima facie evidence, the culprit had to be someone acquainted closely with the church. The papers and cloth used in the fire were taken out from a small basement near the prayer room, he said.

“It would have been impossible for an outsider to get cloth and papers from that box,” Kapoor said.