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Headmaster of Catholic School Shot At and Injured

ICC Note: Though it does not appear that Hindu fundamentalists were behind this attack, police have already dismissed it as simply a case of armed robbery when the evidence speaks loudly that something else motivated the attack.

by Nirmala Carvalho

5/16/07 India (AsiaNews) – The headmaster of a Catholic primary school on the southern outskirts of New Delhi is out of danger, following a gun attack which took place in his office yesterday afternoon. The police maintain that the motive behind the attack is attempted robbery, a theory the Archdiocese has excluded while voicing its concern over the lack of clarity in investigations.

Fr. George Philip, 35, is headmaster of St. Vincent Palloti Primary School , in Sangam Vihar. Witnesses present at the time of the attack report that two young men had arrived at the school late yesterday morning asking for the headmaster; one of the two had already presented himself at the school a day earlier, where he had asked for information about admission. Fr Philip had suggested he come the next morning together with his child. As the Priest was not in the building when they arrived the two returned later that afternoon; the offices were closet but the Priest welcomed them and inviting them to take a seat handed them the admission form to fill in. It was at this point that one of the two took out a handgun of Indian make, shooting at the Priest three times, injuring him on the left side of his chest. The two attackers then fled the scene as school staff ran to aid the headmaster and call police. Currently Fr. Philip is in Batra Hospital where doctors have removed the bullets and assure that the priest is out of danger.

The police said initial investigations suggested that it was a case of attempted robbery and have launched a hunt for the culprits. But this theory has failed to convince ecclesial authorities in the Archdiocese. Speaking to AsiaNews, Fr. Dominic Emmanuel SVD, spokesperson of Delhi Catholic Archdiocese said, “Police are being very naïve to say that the attack was carried because the men wanted to rob Father Philip of a mobile phone. Why would someone who wants to rob a person of his mobile carry a gun inside a school… or fire three shots at the Father? In fact, one of the attackers had come to meet Father George the previous day to enquire about admission …” “Initially we suspected that the attack was the handy work of Hindu fundamentalists but after talking to the school staff, we do not expect any hand of the Hindutva brigade in this”, says Fr. Emmanuel. “However, – he concludes – since the attackers carried a pistol, there is reason to be worried about the incident. It is clear that the miscreants had come prepared with the intention of harming him though the motive for the attack is not clear yet”.