Police in India’s West Bengal state say they have arrested three supporters of the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for storming into and ransacking a church while Christians were praying inside.
The arrests came on Dec. 30, three days after a group of around 10 people allegedly burst into the protestant church in East Midnapore district shouting slogans and began smashing furniture and breaking windows, the Indian Express reported.
Other reports said that at least two ‘bombs’ were hurled at the church. Cash was also looted.
An undisclosed number of people were in the church when the attack took place, police said.
Three people were arrested, and police were searching for other suspects, East Midnapore Superintendent of Police V. Solomon Nishakumar said.
According to police sources, they were responding to a complaint lodged by the church’s pastor who also had his car vandalized during the attack.
Those arrested were charged with attempted murder and grievous bodily harm, a police official said.
It was not clear if and how many people inside the church were hurt during the attack.
“The area has good number of Christian residents. Following Christmas, the area had been in a celebratory mood. The number of people in the church was also higher than normal. Such an act of vandalism created panic in the area,” the Indian Express quoted the unnamed police official as saying.
The BJP, which has been blamed for a rising number of attacks on Christians since its leader, Narendra Modi became India’s prime minister in 2014 denied its supporters were involved.
It accused The All India Trinamool Congress (TMC), the ruling party in West Bengal, of orchestrating the attack.
“The BJP has nothing to do with the incident. It’s just another effort by the ruling party [TMC] to defame us,” said a local party leader who wished to remain anonymous.