Andhra Pradesh: abducted bishop investigation lands three priests in jail
The three clergymen are Fr Nalladimmu Raja Reddy from Mylavaram, Fr Lingala Vijaya Mohan Reddy from Vallur, and Fr Sanivarapu Marreddy from Renigunta. Police says the three resented Mgr Gallela’s decisions not to give them money and positions.
Secunderabad (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Three priests in the diocese of Cuddapah, Andhra Pradesh, abducted the local bishop, and mistreated him for hours because of resentment over positions.
Police superintendent Navin Gulati, who is in charge of the investigation, said that Mgr Prasad Gallela was kidnapped in Kadapa after he celebrated a religious service.
“The main reason behind the abduction is the grudge the priests developed against the bishop for his non-cooperation in their efforts to loot church funds,” the superintendent said.
The main accused is Fr Nalladimmu Raja Reddy, from Mylavaram, head of the Puja International School, and founder of ‘Daddy Home’. The second priest is Fr Lingala Vijaya Mohan Reddy, who is the pastor in Vallur. The third is Fr Sanivarapu Marreddy, pastor in Renigunta, Chittoor district.
The three priests are among 14 people arrested a few days ago by police on charges of kidnapping, extortion, attempted murder, bodily harm, mischief, and criminal conspiracy.
According to investigators, the accused blocked the car on which the prelate was travelling, blindfolded him, and took him to a secret location.
They demanded a ransom of five million rupees (US$ 75,000), and threatened to kill him. They also took his wallet, which contained 2,000 rupees (US$ 30), his ATM card, a silver chain with the pectoral cross, and his mobile phone.
The kidnappers locked the bishop’s driver, Vijay Kumar, inside another car, where they beat him, and took his cash and ATM card, which they used to withdraw 46,000 rupees (US$ 700).
After beating the bishop during the night, and getting him to hand over two million rupees (US$ 30,000), they left him and the driver on the highway to Tadipatri, some 90 km from the city.
Investigators said that the kidnappers had tried several times to kidnap the bishop because he had refused their demands.
Fr Raja Reddy wanted money, Fr Marreddy wanted to be prosecutor, and Fr Mohan Reddy want to head a college. The bishop had however refused to give the money and had appointed other people to the aforementioned positions.
At that point, Fr Raja Reddy contacted Jeereddy Govardhan Reddy, a relative involved in criminal activities, who offered other kidnappers 120,000 rupees [US$ 1,800] to take part in the crime.
Fr Sudhakar, from the Diocese of Kurnool, condemned the action of the three priests. "They were misled by power and money, and have done great harm to the Church."
Fr Jayaraj, another priest in the same diocese, agrees. "Those who believe in money are automatically cast away from the Lord for they plotted against His servants!”