Police prevent priest from easter prayers in Kerala Jail
GCIC – Global Council of Indian Christians
4/9/07 India (Persecution Update India) THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The State police on Sunday prevented a Christian priest and his two associates from entering the Central Prison for Easter prayers on the ground that they were carrying wine along with consecrated bread.
The policemen guarding the prison gates stopped the prayer group, all members of a prominent Christian denomination. A police official said the priests were carrying nearly half-a-litre of wine. The incident occurred around 7 a.m. on Sunday.
The State Government had recently deployed policemen at three Central Prisons in Kerala, supposedly to prevent smuggling of narcotics, tobacco, and liquor and food items into the jails. The Prison Rules state unambiguously that food sourced from outside should not be allowed into jail premises.
The Poojappura police confirmed that such an incident had happened.
Archbishop of the Latin Archdiocese of Trivandrum Soosaipakiam, in a statement issued here on Sunday, said that any move to deny prisoners their spiritual needs was a serious violation of human rights. Such a move in a secular nation such as India was condemnable.
The practice of priests from the Carmel Hill monastery going to the Central Jail each Sunday to offer mass was nearly a century old, the statement said. Now, nearly 100 prisoners participate enthusiastically in the mass held every Sunday. The permission to take these materials inside the prison was given by the Government in 1951.
However, the priest who arrived this morning for the mass was not allowed to take wine inside the prison premises. Since the jail authorities had raised no objection over this matter all these years, it must be assumed that the change in policy on the Easter day was a planned move. The fact that this was done on Easter day could not be seen as a mere coincidence, he said