Agra police on Wednesday detained three men on suspicion that they were involved in vandalising St Mary’s Church at Pratappura in the cantonment area of the city on April 16.
SSP Rajesh Modak said the three men, identified right now only as Nasir, Zafar and Zaffaruddin, and all between 30-35 years, had been held as they were present in the area at the time of the incident, but could not satisfactorily explain what they were doing there. Their cell phones had recorded their location. “They will be released if it is found that they were innocent of the incident,” the SSP said.
As news spread of the three men being held and questioned by the police, members of the Peace Party led a demonstration at the district collectorate, claiming police were biased and had detained “poor men living away from their families, with no one to defend them.”
State general secretary Jahangir Alvi of the Peace Party said the men detained were workers at roadside eateries in Nai ki Mandi, and lived in a Muslim graveyard in Panchkuiya locality of Agra.
The men reportedly said they were returning home after attending a fair at Bijlighar. However, cops were suspicious that they took such a long detour to get home, when there was a route that was just about three km long, through the Sadarbatti locality. The three men had chosen instead to take a 10-km route through Pratappura, where the church is located.
Alvi said, “They detained the wrong men – these are poor men living alone in Agra. No one will rush to defend them, and the police can brand them culprits easily, getting done with their responsibility soon.”