Christian Today India (01/17/06) The Catholic community in Rajasthan continues to live under fear following two separate attacks launched by Hindu extremists on its people.
On December 24, nine activists owing allegiance to the right-wing Hindu extremist organization, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), waylaid four Catholics, including a priest in Jambuda as they were on their way in a jeep to attend a Christmas Mass in a nearby village.
After forcing the jeep to stop, the Hindu extremists pulled the four – Jaisingh Baria, Sunil Minama, and two people identified only as Father Thomas and Santosh out of the vehicle and began thrashing them with iron rods.
Speaking to Compass Direct, Fr. Alexander, a parish priest, recalled that the four were also publicly humiliated by being forced to strip down to their underwear.
According to priest, people living in nearby villages were also angry with the four, as the RSS activists had spread a rumour that the Catholics were carrying two children in their jeep with the intent of sacrificing them as part of their Christmas worship.
Fr. Alexander also recalled that he had asked for police protection for the four after some villagers warned Fr. Thomas not to attend the Christmas celebration that night.
Now Im wondering how the attackers learned of their travel plans, Fr. Alexander wondered.
According to news reports, the assailants stole Fr. Thomas mobile phone and his wallet, besides a small television and a VCD player that were in the jeep. The injured four were reportedly unconscious for several hours till they were discovered by a local Christian and hospitalized late at night.
Four RSS activists were arrested in connection with the incident but released subsequently on bail, Compass Direct has reported.
In a separate incident on December 23, two nuns were assaulted and robbed in Ambapara as they waiting for a bus.
The men came on a motorbike and slapped and verbally abused them, a priest from the Udaipur diocese told Compass Direct. They also snatched the crosses they were wearing around their necks.
One of the attackers was identified as Motilal Patel, already named in several violent attacks on Christians. Patel had earlier used a sharp weapon to attack three Catholic youths waiting at a bus stand in Banswara on October 21 last year.
The Banswara city police had registered a complaint against Patel and arrested him on October 22, but the culprit had applied for bail and was released immediately.
The police, who believe Patel was also involved in the theft of a statue of the Virgin Mary from St. Andrews Church in Ambapara on December 22, are yet to arrest Patel in connection with the attack on the two nuns.