ASIA/INDIA - Catholic priest beaten in Madhya Pradesh: the Church writes to the Prime Minister
Khandwa (Agenzia Fides) – Another serious act of aggression has shaken the Catholic Church in India: Fr Sebastian Kaiparambil, a Catholic priest of 45 years, residing in Badwha in the Diocese of Khandwa, Madhya Pradesh, was attacked, beaten and seriously injured in the night between 29 and 30 March. As reported to Fides by the local Church, the priest was asleep when, at 2.30 am, three people entered his room, beat him and fled, stealing some 50,000 rupees. Currently, the priest who is the parish priest at the church of St Mary and head of the attached School, is in hospital, to recover from his many wounds and bruises.
Police are investigating the case and so far have made no comment on the reasons for the attack, nor on the possibility of it being militant Hindu fundamentalist action. The local Bishop Sebastian Durairj condemned the violence, saying the priest “is a very active missionary with excellent relations among the people.”
After the incident, Archbishop Leo Cornelio of Bhopal, who chairs the Council of Bishops in Madhya Pradesh, sent a memorandum to the Prime Minister of the state, stating his alarm about the attack and also about the recent episode of the destruction the statues for the Stations of the Cross (see Fides 29/03/2011), asking for protection and security for Christians. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 30/3/2011)
ASIA/INDIA - Church burned, Stations of the Cross destroyed
New Delhi (Agenzia Fides) – There is much sorrow in the Christian community in India due to the new episodes of violence and damages done to the community. A Christian church in Kerala, Southern India, was completely burned down. This occurred on 23 March but has only now been recounted to Fides by local sources. The church of St Mary, part of the Orthodox Church of Syro-Malankara rite in Poddivatuvialla, was set on fire by unknown persons that the police are trying to identify. The local faithful have expressed bitterness and disappointment, especially since Kerala is a state where Christians make
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Instead, an episode attributed to a transgression by Hindu extremist groups has occurred in recent days in the Diocese of Jhabua (in Madhya Pradesh, central India), where some militants stopped a vehicle carrying the statues for the Stations of the Cross to a Catholic parish in Jhapadra, and they destroyed the statues. The material damage amounted to at least $ 500, but the local Church emphasises the spiritual harm and violence, saying that they had alerted the police.
In another state, Rajasthan (Northern India), the police arrested two people suspected of violence against Pastor Harish Ninama, who in February had been forced to walk naked over 5 km on the main street of the city, derided by some young Hindu extremists on a motorcycle who abused, stripped and beat him (see Fides 9/03/2011).
Sources in India comment to Fides: “These incidents show that Hindu extremism is present, has spread everywhere and is a problem which must be taken seriously. Christians, like other Indian citizens, should be left in peace to enjoy their rights and full religious freedom.” (PA) (Agenzia Fides 29/3/2011)