By Nirmala Carvalho
MUMBAI – Police in India on Monday arrested 14 people for the kidnapping and beating of a Catholic bishop on April 25, including three of the bishop’s own priests, at least one of whom is believed to have been upset that he was recently denied a requested position in the diocese.
The main culprit charged in the arrest is Father Raja Reddy from Jammalamadugu, located in the diocese of Cuddapah in southern India, which is led by Bishop Prasad Gallela, 54, who is currently recovering from injuries sustained in the kidnapping.
Sources told Crux that Raja Reddy had requested the position of “procurator” in the diocese, which would have allowed him to exercise certain powers in the name of the bishop, but was turned down.
Gallela and his driver were kidnapped on April 25 at a village called Nagasanepalle by a group of persons who showered blows on him, blindfolded and tied him up, and took him to an undisclosed place and demanded a ransom of roughly $75,000.
According to the police investigation, the assailants took away a bag belonging to Gallela containing a small amount of cash, three ATM cards, a silver chain with the bishop’s holy cross, and his iPhone.
From 2000 to 2004, Gallela served as a priest in the diocese of San Angelo, Texas, before returning to India to teach in a local seminary and eventually to become a bishop.
The attackers also kidnapped his driver, Vijay Kumar, in another car, beat him up, and took his ATM cards and used them to withdraw roughly $700 in cash.
Police officials said it was a case of kidnapping for ransom, theft, attempted murder, causing hurt and mischief and criminal conspiracy.
The accused left the bishop and his driver on a highway at about 2 a.m. on April 26, after the bishop agreed to pay roughly $30,000 for their freedom.
Gallela lodged a complaint with the police on April 27, saying that the kidnappers were aged between 25 and 35 years and that the incident had to do with the fallout from recent transfers of pastors working in the diocese.