Police have told a parish in Hyderabad archdiocese in Andhra Pradesh, India, to play down the recent vandalism of shrine statues for fear of sparking communal violence.
“The cops are trying to hush up the case because we are Christians. If such a thing had happened in a temple or a mosque, there would not have been peace in the city,” said Salesian Father Bokkala Rayappa from Bandlaguda parish.
“They … told us not to make an issue out of it as it could lead to communal violence.”
A priest found two damaged statues in the street on June 13.
A statue of Saint Michael the Archangel had its missing its head while one of Mary Help of Christians was damaged and placed upside down, said Salesian Father Bokkala Rayappa.
The incident occurred in the early hours of the morning so nobody heard anything, Father Rayappa said.
Parishioners found a saffron flag associated with Hindu hardline groups near one of the statues, he said.
The parish informed the police, who came and put the statues back on their pedestals.
Father Rayappa said the police investigation was “very shoddy.” They arrested a worker the parish had sacked recently.
Parishioners staged a peace rally in the aftermath of the incident.