Current Affairs

Velim Priest and Villagers booked under attempt to murder

The Goa police on Sunday booked Fr. Romano Gonsalves, parish priest from Velim in south Goa, six others (including members of the committee of a local church), and 1,500 unidentified people for attempt to murder five policemen on Saturday.

Two constables admitted to a Margao hospital are still under observation; one suffered a skull fracture. Two CRPF jawans and a CID sub-inspector were discharged from the hospital on Sunday.

The security personnel had gone to get an update on a recent incident in which election authorities raided the priest’s residence following an election-related complaint, which turned out to be false. This invited a strong reaction from the priest and the parishioners of the village. The people were upset over the incident which, they said, lowered the dignity of the priest.

According to reports reaching here late on Sunday evening from Velim village, some villagers gathered near the church after getting information about the registration of police cases relating to the Saturday assault. But no untoward incident was reported. Police officials told The Hindu on Sunday that the village was tense but peaceful and regular mass was being held at the church.

The fact-finding team of the CID had gone to the village on the directives of the Election Commission officials to get an update on the situation in the wake of warnings by the people that unless the personnel involved, including Income Tax officials, tendered an unconditional apology and divulged the name of the complainant, they would boycott the elections.

Police sources admitted that approaching the priest at around 9 p.m. was a mistake, in view of the already vitiated atmosphere in the village.

But it was necessary as the CID branch of the police had been asked to give an update at a meeting between the police and the EC team scheduled for Sunday. When the CID team arrived at the church at around 8.45 p.m. on Saturday, Fr. Gonsalves and the assistant parish priest are said to have demanded to see their identity and other papers.

Suddenly some of the locals started ringing the church bells suspecting another raid. As word of policemen being present in the church spread, a crowd, which was attending an election public meeting nearby, rushed to the church and attacked the police team. Police force from the nearby Cuncolim police station reached along with CRPF jawans and rescued the policemen.

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