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ICC Note

Christians in India are often seen helping the poorest of the poor, and helping to institute welfare programs. Recently, Christians have seen more and more attacks against them, particularly from radical Hindu groups.

Indian Christian leaders seek gov’t help in attack on Catholic bishop

Catholic Online (02/01/06)

To view the full article, click here: Indian Christian leaders seek gov’t help in attack on Catholic bishop

MUMBAI, India – Christian groups across India protested strongly after Hindu fanatics attacked a Catholic bishop and four priests in a western state. They sought federal help to arrest the perpetrators.

The Indian bishops’ conference, several lay groups and a cardinal have condemned the Jan. 29 attack as an incident that shamed India’s claims to being a secular nation. They asked the Maharashtra state and federal governments to act against the culprits.

In the attack a group of people shouted slogans and threw stones at Bishop Thomas Dabre of Vasai and the priests, who had gone to Ghosali village to open a hostel. One priest and a person on hand for the program were injured.

Bishop Dabre told UCA News Feb. 1 that police arrested 18 people a day after the incident in Thane district, 1,280 kilometers (about 800 miles) southwest of New Delhi , but released them on bail the same day.

On Feb. 1, diocesan officials and leaders of various religions met Archana Tyagi, the district collector, or top government official in Thane. Earlier, lay groups demanding the arrest of the culprits had approached Maharashtra Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh.

Narrating the incident, Bishop Dabre said he and the priests had gone to the village to open a hostel his diocese built for tribal students.

About 200 people gathered outside the building and shouted slogans like “Christians go back” and “foreign dogs get out.” They also verbally abused those attending the program.

Bishop Dabre said he and the priests ignored the shouting, since they did not want to aggravate the situation. The mob appeared to have retreated, but returned later with more people, many of them carrying sticks.

The mob surrounded the building, shouting slogans and effectively trapping the bishop and others inside for almost three hours.

Bishop Dabre, who has initiated several social works projects, said he has never come across such an incident in his 16 years as a bishop. “The situation is now under control,” he said.

The spokesperson for the Indian Bishops’ conference, Father Babu Joseph, told media in New Delhi that the incident was an example of how fanatical groups continue to intimidate and harass Christian missioners for undertaking welfare programs among the poor.

The “shocking and shameful” incident shows the fanatic groups are active against the church, he said. Certain groups are afraid that the church’s works among the poor would destabilize the hold of upper-caste Hindus over India’s socioeconomic sectors, the Divine Word priest added.

Condemning the incident, he asked the state and federal governments to initiate steps to arrest the culprits and take measures to ensure that similar incidents are not repeated.

To read the full article, click here: Indian Christian Leaders Seek Help from Government Regarding Attack