Natore (AsiaNews) – Fr Walter William Rozario, 41, has been missing for the past two days. According to his parish priest, he might have been kidnapped.
The clergyman’s disappearance on the eve of the pope’s arrival of in Bangladesh, is a source of concern. Fr Walter is the headmaster at the St Louis High School, and assistant pastor in Borni (diocese of Rajshashi, northern Bangladesh).
"He went to the Bonpara church,’ his pastor, Fr Subroto Purification, told AsiaNews. “He then went to the market for some publications and other duties for the parish, but he did not come back and his phone has been turned off.”
“We are very worried for him. We are praying for his return in good conditions. Now I am at the police station for help," he said by phone. "We want my assistant back as soon as possible."
Fr Subroto added that he received a ransom call for the priest. "They want 300,000 Taka (more than US$ 3,600) for his release. We're collaborating with the police."
Bonpara is a small town where people go for printing and other things. It was here, last year, that a Catholic worker who often helped the Church, Sunil Gomes, was killed by some militants. Some suspect that his killers were also responsible for the attack at the Gulshan Café.
A Catholic policeman who preferred not to give his name spoke to AsiaNews. "I think the abduction of Fr Walter is a conspiracy because Pope Francis will come to Bangladesh tomorrow."
"When we heard the news of my brother’s disappearance we visited all hospitals and many other places, but we did not find him,” said a tearful Premol Rozario, the priest’s older brother. “We can’t sleep from all the worry."
He did not say more about the kidnapping but added that he did not feel safe. Like him, many in Borni parish now live in fear. Some have doubts about taking part in the activities associated with the papal visit.
"From what I heard the assistant to the pastor has disappeared,” said one parishioner. “I do not feel safe to attend the meeting with the pope on 1st December”.
The local police said that they were doing their best to find Fr Walter.