Mangaluru: Addressing the media persons during the press meet held at Mangaluru Press Club, Alwyn D’Souza-spokesperson for St Joseph Vaz prayer centre at Our Lady of Mercy Church, Paneer said, “Even though the police have arrested the person responsible for vandalizing St Joseph Vaz prayer center – Paneer but the accused had been made to give false statements to the police by non-christian activists so that the case could be closed easily and also to misled the police.
As per the incident that occurred on the nights of 24 and 25 February, stones were pelted at the prayer centre which resulted in the damage of the glass frame housing a statue of Mother Mary and Infant Jesus. After a complaint was lodged, the police on 10 March 2015 were successful in nabbing the culprit, namely Ananda, aged 30, hailing from Kinya-Ukkuda, and also a ex-employee of the church, who had revealed to the police that he damaged the church property since he was not happy with the wages paid to him by the church management.
But the church representatives during the press meet said that they don’t agree with the statements made by Ananda, that since he was paid low wages that he got into such act. According to Alwyn, who said, “The Church owns a rubber plantation in the land belonging to the church, where many people are employed in the rubber cultivation, among whom was Ananda. He was hired to paint the rubber trees, and he had worked only a few days, after which he never showed up. Regarding wages we pay the same amount to every employee without any discrimination”.
He further said, “In 2011, we paid Rs 250 per day to each employee, in 2012 we paid Rs 275, in 2013-2014 we paid Rs 300, and in 2015 we increased the wages to Rs 350 per day. Not just wages, we also provide meals, evening tea and snacks- even today our employees are working under the same wages/contract and no one has ever complained about non-satisfactory over wages and other benefits. But it is surprising to note that Ananda had come forward and confessed to the police that he attacked the church since he was not happy with the wages. This is not true, some non-christian activists are playing tricks behind this who might have brain-washed Ananda to commit the act and give false information to the police”
Alwyn also said, “There is no way that Ananda could have bailed out so quickly without the financial help from outside non-christian groups, since he comes from a poor family, and also that his mother doesn’t believe that Ananda would ever get into such illegal activity. It clearly shows that Ananda was pushed into to commit such crime by force from outsiders. Since this incident also happened during the Hindu Samajotsava, where many stone throwing instances were reported taken place around Paneer vicinity, we feel that Paneer church could have been attacked by same culprits”
While concluding, Alwyn said,” We don’t want to blame anyone, but want the police to investigate deep into this incident, and just not come to the conclusion on the statements revealed by Ananda, that he damaged the church property because of low wages, which is hard to believe by us. Upon arrest, the accused Ananda accepted in front of the Police that he had indeed broken the glass of the Saint Joseph Vaz Prayer Hall but falsely claimed that he did this in anger as he was underpaid by the church which was untrue and baseless. Both of these are separate matters and do not relate to each other.The accused Ananda is trying to divert the real reason of why he tried to harm the church statue by using the wages as a false reason. We feel that some other organizations have supported Ananda in committing this crime, for which we want the police to sleuth and bring justice to this case at the earliest”.
Michael Lobo-Ex-Vice President and Philip D’Souza- secretary of Paneer Parish Council were also present during the press meet.