Police in Madhya Pradesh's Narmadapuram district have arrested three persons, including two from Uttar Pradesh, in connection with the alleged torching and defiling of a church, an official said on Wednesday.
The arson and vandalism at the church located in tribal-dominated Sukhtawa came to light on Sunday when some people went to the shrine to offer prayers, said the official.
Three persons were arrested in connection with the arson of the church under Kesla police station, said Narmadapuram Superintendent of Police Gurkaran Singh.
The SP said an almost similar incident had taken place in front of a church at Kheda village near Itarsi about a month ago.
The police identified the accused as Avnish Pandey, a resident of Faizabad in UP, an electrician named Shiv and Akash Tiwari, who is from UP's Jhansi.
Calling Tiwari the mastermind behind the attack on the church, the SP said he used to send locations, especially of "churches, mazars and dargahs" to the other accused to commit such attacks. Tiwari also sent money to the two for the work, he said.
Apart from the lure of money, the SP said, Pandey and Shiv also agreed to work for Tiwari on the belief that "they should do something for their religion".
The senior official said police will sternly deal with those who try to disrupt communal harmony.
Citing the complaint, an official had earlier said that some religious texts and furniture were also destroyed in Sunday's incident.