Church watchmen loot priest, one seeks forgiveness

Three watchmen at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Navghar, Bhayender East, allegedly tied and gagged Father Dennis Francis Maruki (32) Monday night and fled with gold and cash.

The loss was over Rs 2 lakh.

Before fleeing, one of the watchmen knelt at the feet of the priest and sought forgiveness.

Navghar Police said Maruki was asleep in his chamber when he heard a knock at 1 am. Watchman Deepak Bhandari of Nepal, employed by the church six months ago, was at the door seeking permission to enter.

"I did not suspect anything as the watchman told me he wanted my blessings before going to his village on Tuesday. As I opened the door, Bhandari and two other watchmen recruited recently on his recommendation barged in," Maruki told police. Police said the watchmen pinned the priest down, tied him to a chair and gagged him. They then ransacked his cupboard and fled with gold and cash.

"The three robbed around Rs 1.8 lakh belonging to the church and stole 18 gm of gold before fleeing on my Pulsar motorcycle (MH 03 AU 2156), whose keys were lying on the table," said Maruki.

"Before fleeing, Bhandari knelt at my feet and asked for forgiveness for the crime. He also sought my blessings." After the three disappeared, Maruki freed himself and alerted police.

Police said before entering the chamber of the priest, the watchmen broke locks on the main door and had their fill in the kitchen.

"We have learnt Bhandari is a history sheeter. There is a robbery case registered against him at Santacruz Police Station," inspector Dinkar Pingle said, adding that the church had employed the accused without checking their background.

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