Andhra Pradesh: Priest among 14 arrested for bishop's kidnapping
by Nirmala Carvalho

Fr. Raja Reddy is from the same diocese as Mgr. Gallela Prasad. The bishop was kidnapped and locked up a facility run by the priest. The police speak of kidnapping for ransom, injury, damage and criminal conspiracy. The kidnappers had already attempted the kidnapping four times.

Secunderabad (AsiaNews) -  A Catholic priest is among the 14 people arrested for the kidnapping of Msgr. Gallela Prasad, bishop of the diocese of Cuddapah.  His name is Fr. Raja Reddy and he is from the same diocese the bishop.

Local police chief Navin Gulati broke the news as he outlined the dynamics of Msgr. Prasad’s kidnapping. Msgr. Thumma Bala, archbishop of Hyderabad, had described his fellow bishop as “a person who has devoted his whole life to God and to the service of the needy and the marginalized".

The arrests were made yesterday in Kadapa, the town from which the bishop was returning on April 25 when he was attacked, after celebrating a religious service. The head of the police said the kidnapping was for ransom. The criminals blocked the car in which he was traveling, blindfolded Msgr. Prasad and took him to a secret location.

Here, they demanded a ransom of 5 million rupees [over 65 thousand euro, ed], and threatened him with death if he had rebelled. Then they robbed him of the money he had with him at that time - about 2 thousand rupees [25 EUR] -, three credit cards, a silver chain and a crucifix, and his mobile phone.

Meanwhile, the robbers locked the driver of the bishop, Vijay Kumar, in another car, where he was beaten and robbed of cash, about 46 thousand rupees [€ 600].

Dr. Gulati said: "We are faced with a case of kidnapping for extortion, attempted murder, injury, damage and criminal conspiracy." Those arrested have confessed that previously four attempts had been made to carry out the kidnapping, between 6 and 15 April.

The bishop was beaten for hours and then abandoned on the highway of Tadipatri on April 26, after agreeing to pay 2 million rupees [over 26 thousand euro, ed.]

The main suspect is Fr. Raja Reddy of Mylavaram, the director of the International School of Puja and founder of "Daddy's Home" in jammalamadugu constituency. According to rumors, the kidnappers kept Msgr. Prasad in the facility run by the priest. Others arrested, include the gang leader, Jeereddy Govardhan Reddy, a relative of the priest.