A Catholic priest and 500 others have been booked for assaulting two Special Branch personnel of the Goa police at the Velim church late Saturday night. Sources close to Fr Romano Gonsalves, priest of the church at Velim, 50 kms from here, however said that the policemen from the Goa Police Special Branch had visited the church premises Saturday night had demanded to know which political party he was backing, along with others in his flock. ”The attack was unprovoked. They had gone there officially to conduct a pre-poll assessment and the policemen were unarmed,” Superintendent of Police Atmaram Deshpande told reporters here.
Police sub-inspector Kapil Naik and a police constable were surrounded and beaten up by a mob of over 500 people at Velim, after the duo had called on the priest for his inputs for their political assessment report. ”They had no business coming to the Church at night. Such things can be done during the day too. Their intention was to intimidate the father, who has been targetted by politicians in the past,” a confidante of Gonsalves said. Gonsalves’ residential premises within the Velim Church were raided by a flying squad of the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) earlier this month, after an unknown caller had accused the priest of distributing money on behalf of a candidate.
The squad had seized Rs. 6,000 from the priest at the time, which was subsequently returned to him. The raid had sparked public outrage in the area, with local residents even complaining to the CEO about it.