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Violence erupts after attack on priest

Mumbai street incident escalates into sectarian brawl

Abraham Mathai, vice chairman of the Maharashtra Minorities Commission visits Father Yogesh Pereira in hospital Abraham Mathai, vice chairman of the Maharashtra Minorities Commission visits Father Yogesh Pereira in hospital
  • ucanews.com reporter, Mumbai
  • India
  • February 9, 2011
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An attack on a Catholic priest has sparked an outbreak of sectarian violence between Catholics and Muslims in a Mumbai suburb.

Father Yogesh Pereira of St. Gonsalo Garcia Church in Nalasopara, Vasai diocese in western India, was injured in the February 6 incident and is recovering in hospital.

The drama began when the driver of a motorized trishaw slapped the priest following an argument. Several Muslim youths nearby then joined the driver and started punching the priest.

Local Catholic youths came to the priest’s assistance before they were set upon and forced to flee by another group of young Muslims who then set about burning several vehicles and threatening people.

Six youths, including a Catholic, were injured and hospitalized as a result of the brawl, Archbishop Felix Machado of Vasai told ucanews.com yesterday.

The archbishop condemned both sides for giving “communal and political color" to a “little altercation” in the street.

The prelate said he had contacted Muslim leader Maulana Shabhir Dhange and both are to meet on February 11 in a demonstration of unity.

He also said he plans to visit the injured Muslims “to heal the wounds of both communities.”

Abraham Mathia, vice chairman of the Maharashtra State Minority Commission, told ucanews.com he has urged local police to hold regular “peace meetings” between the two communities to prevent future revenge attacks.

Diocesan Chancellor Father John Furgose told ucanews.com he had to return home after rushing to the scene of the altercation as violence and tension had intensified and continued till evening.

Police superintendent Deepak Devraj, said police are investigating but the priority is “to build bridges between the two communities to prevent future attacks.”

Related reports
Catholic Peace Rally In Mumbai Draws Massive Crowd
Church-run School Seeks Police Protection Following Threats From Politician

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