First arrest in Bangalore church attack case

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Sajjan Kumar alias Babu,Bangalore, Sept 4, 2013: Almost four years after a church was attacked in Huskur Gate, Electronics City, Bangalore police have announced the first arrest in the case. The suspect, Sajjan Kumar alias Babu, 33, is also said to be involved in a similar attack on a church in Yedavanahalli near Attibele in 2008.

Kumar, a native of Madagondapalli in Denkanikottai taluk in Krishnagiri district of Tamil Nadu, is believed to have attacked two churches in Tamil Nadu as well.

A senior officer who led the investigation said the suspect was associated with a Hindu fundamentalist group active in Tamil Nadu. He, however, refused to disclose the group’s identity.

The officer claimed Kumar had “confessed” to all the four attacks. He was personally opposed to “religious conversion” by Christian missionaries and hence attacked the churches “in protest”, the officer quoted him as saying.

The special branch of the City police, which made the arrest, believes Kumar alone could not have carried out the attacks. He certainly has come associates and an organised group that aided and abetted him in the crime. This angle was being looked into in the investigation, the officer added.

The special branch was looking into whether the attacks were organised and a larger conspiracy was at play. A special team led by DCP (Crime-2), V S D’Souza, will investigate the case.

Kumar’s arrest came after the special branch tracked him continuously for four months, although the case has been officially assigned to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) official. Not a single arrest, however, had been made until Kumar was apprehended.

The officer said the suspect gave himself away in a drunken stupor at a bar in the City recently. He spoke his heart out to a friend. The special branch then received the tip-off and arrested him.

The first attack was carried out on St Antony’s Church at Yedavanahalli on October 13, 2008. The miscreants entered the premises and desecrated the statue of Jesus Christ. The doors and windowpanes were also damaged and copies of the Bible and curtains were set afire.

In 2009, the Infant Jesus Church at Huskur Gate in Hebbagodi police limits was attacked.
The attackers damaged the security guard room and desecrated the statue of Jesus Christ besides damaging the windowpanes and setting fire to a van belonging to the church’s parish priest. Kumar is said to have confessed to involvement in the two attacks.

He also reportedly confessed to carrying out attacks in two churches in Tamil Nadu.
During the same period, miscreants had set afire a scooter parked near Oasis Hotel where a Christian prayer was held.

Some miscreants had set fire to a tempo traveller parked in a church at Handvadi check post. Cases were registered at Mathigiri police station in Krishnagiri district.

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