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Churches Attacked, Money Earmarked For Tribals Stolen In Jharkhand

ICC Note:

“The money is our bane. It is fundamental to our mission because it enables us to teach and feed hundreds of poor free of charge, but it also exposes us to more and more frequent attacks by violent robbers.”

by Prakash Dubey

AsiaNews (09/06/06) – A gang of unknown men attacked two parish churches on Sunday and Monday in the diocese of Daltenganj, in the eastern Indian state of Jharkhand, stealing thousands of rupees earmarked for free tribal education. During their assault, clergymen and volunteers were beaten as they tried to stop the thieves.

Fr Gyan Prasad, director of the Daltenganj diocesan social development centre, told AsiaNews that “the money is our bane. It is fundamental to our mission because it enables us to teach and feed hundreds of poor free of charge, but it also exposes us to more and more frequent attacks by violent robbers”.

The priest explained that these “two robberies are but the latest in a series. In the last two months we had five robberies in as many parishes of our diocese. If the situation goes on like this, we’ll have to stop our social work and this would have a devastating impact on Tribals.”

For Father Prasad, the thieves are not isolated individuals. “It is clear,” he stressed, “that we are witnessing an anti-Christian conspiracy bent on shutting down the Church mission in favour of the poor and the marginalised”.

For him, the “state is run by a pro-Hindu political party which is explicitly opposed to the Church’s work among the poor. They blame the Church of proselytizing among the Tribals on the pretence of performing social work. But that is a total lie. The Church is not trying to win coverts to Christianity. Rather our prime goal is to convert poor into empowered human beings so that they can live with dignity”.

Mgr Charles Soreng, bishop of Hazaribag, has a different opinion. “I don’t think the robberies are going to weaken our commitment to the poor and marginalised. But we need to reflect upon the violence against our parishes in remote rural areas and ask the authorities to ensure security in our parishes, and protect the priests and volunteers engaged in social and pastoral works in the region.”