08/27/2011, 00.00
INDIA

Catholic church attacked in Andhra Pradesh, Bibles and religious objects burned

Nirmala Carvalho
It is the second case in a few days against a Malankara church after an assault in Pune. Parish of Mother Mary in Secundrabad targeted by extremists. The faithful denounce the attack, but police have not yet identified the culprits. Four years ago the same building targeted by Hindu extremists.
Delhi (AsiaNews) - Another Malankara Catholic church has been targeted by extremists in India, who set fire to the altar and burned copies of the Bible contained within. The attack was reported by activists of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) and comes only days after another attack on a Malankara Church, in Pune, in the early morning of August 15 (see AsiaNews 8/17/11 Catholic church attacked in Pune).

The assault by a group of unidentified assailants occurred on 25 August, who targeted the Malankara Catholic church of Mother Mary in Secundrabad, Andhra Pradesh state, in central-east India. The vandals set fire to the altar, the Bibles, the cross, books of songs, clothing and vestments. They also damaged the churches’ audio system, erected in 1996 near the Krupanand Hall, in the colony of Ganesh, in Pickett.

In recent days, two parishioners (Matthew Papachan and his assistant) had thoroughly cleaned the place of worship, flooded following the heavy rains during the week. Each Friday moments of Eucharistic adoration take place and the place of worship had been arranged to accommodate the faithful. At one o'clock in the afternoon when Papachan returned to complete the cleaning, he saw smoke escaping from the church.

The parish priest Fr Felix Thondalil denounced the vandalism to the police, the police took steps to create a security system around the church, but have not yet tracked down the perpetrators of the act. Four years ago the place of worship had been the victim of an attack by Hindu extremist activists of Bajrang Dal. "We are very sad - the priest points out - because many sacred objects were destroyed."

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