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ICC Note

Police negligence in preventing attacks on Christians reveals that some Indian authorities do not consider Christians worth protecting.

Christian Today India (02/17/06) – Preliminary investigations carried out by Christian advocacy group, the All India Christian Council (AICC), in the wake of the attack launched by Hindu extremist groups on the Bishop of Vasai in Ghosali village, have revealed that the local police had prior information about the possibility of such an attack and, but for their negligence, could have prevented it.

Activists owing allegiance to Hindu right-wing outfits, the Bajrang Dal and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), had submitted a written complaint to the Mokhada police station under whose jurisdiction the village of Ghosali falls, three days prior to the incident, stating that they did not want any project of the Bishop to take place in the tribal belt of Thane district of Maharashtra.

On January 29, Bishop Thomas Dabre along with some priests, nuns and social workers were surrounded and trapped in ‘Suryodaya Ashram,’ a hostel newly constructed by the diocese for needy Hindu tribal boys and girls, by a mob of Hindu extremists who pelted stones, broke chairs and hurled abuses for over two hours before retreating when challenged by local villagers.

“I am really worried that the police received a complaint letter on January 26, three days before the inauguration of the hostel, but they did not inform us,” said a shocked Bishop Dabre.

“Neither did the police intimate us about it, nor did they take any precautionary measures to prevent the attack,” said Vicar General, Andrew Rodrigues.

The police negligence came to light on February 1 when senior officials of the Thane collectorate, district administration and police, led by Ms. Archana Tyagi, superintendent of police, met Bishop Dabre and other Catholic leaders at Bishop’s House, Vasai.

“The meeting brought to light the gross negligence on the part of the police, as the Bajrang Dal and VHP had three days prior to the inauguration of the hostel, warned the Mokhada police station, against allowing such a project in the vicinity,” claimed Dr. Abraham Mathai, general secretary, AICC. “Neither did the police intimate them about it, nor did they take any precautionary measures on their own to prevent any attack.”

“Since it was a failure on the part of the police to provide adequate protection, despite prior information of the imminent danger, the state has a responsibility of compensating the victims with a sum of Rs 2 lakh, the estimated damage caused in the attack on the school building,” Dr. Mathai added.

Abraham Mathai has also claimed that the police reached the spot only after two hours. “The police came only after the intervention of Range IGP Satyapal Singh and Ms. Archana Tyagi,” he said, adding that though 18 people were arrested soon after the incident, yet, they were released on bail.

“The Christian community strongly feels that the attack is part of the Saffron alliance plan to vitiate the peaceful atmosphere in Thane district, as it comes in the wake of increased attacks on Christians in places such as Wada, Jawahar and Vikramgad. Another possible reason could be its proximity to Gujarat – the Hindutva laboratory – from where these elements originate,” the Council said in a press release, urging the state government to take steps to prevent such attacks in future.