08/20/2013, 00.00
INDIA
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India, Catholic missionaries attacked. Jesuit: I forgive them, they were fomented by fundamentalists

by Nirmala Carvalho
About 150 people attacked priests and nuns who work with tribal Santal in Jharkhand. The death of a child who lived in the mission’s sparked mob’s wrath. But according to the missionaries, Hindu extremist groups fomented parents, exploiting their pain.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) - Attacked, insulted and beaten by about 150 people: This is what happened to a Jesuit priest and two nuns who work with tribal Santal in a Catholic mission in Karon (Jharkhand). The attack occurred two days ago. The mob's wrath was sparked by the death of a 7 year old boy, who was staying in the hostel run by the Catholic Church. However, the Jesuits of the province of Dumka-Raiganj - who run the mission - suspect the involvement of radical Hindu groups Sawayamsevak Rashtriya Sangh (RSS) and Bajrang Dal.

On 2 August the child began to experience severe stomach pains. Concerned, mission staff rushed him to the local hospital, where unfortunately he died. Doctors said he died from cardiac arrest. Priests and nuns brough the small child's body back to his native village, which is located in the district of Chittaranjan (West Bengal). Angry about what happened, the villagers first held the Catholic sisters captive, then let them return.

"But we had asked them a new meeting - Fr. Panimegam Michael, SJ, the director of the mission tells AsiaNews - and on Aug. 18 about 150 people gathered, including the child's parents. Shortly after starting the father approached and slapped me. From there, others started to break the windows, destroying furniture, and the mother to beat me. "

The women in the group - about 60 - have attacked Sister Sahaya, which is the principal of the school's mission. "They pulled her hair - recalls the priest - and ripped her clothes, then they beat her" and together with her, another sister.

Police intervention dispersed the people. One of the priests present at the time of the attack, Fr. Salomon, suffered injuries to his head. Before leaving, the group demanded a compensation of 1 million rupees, but the missionaries did not accept.

The incident has shocked the priests and nuns of the mission. However, they remain convinced that Hindu fundamentalists fomented the community, exploiting the pain of the parents for the loss of the child. "I forgive my attackers - says Fr. Panimegam - and with God's grace and His Spirit we will continue to serve this Santal community through the educational mission of the Jesuits."

Founded in 2004, the missionary center is called Deepshikha ("Torch") and also includes a hostel and a school. In 2005 c some nuns of the Congregation of the Immaculate Conception (CIC) arrived, taking over the management of the institute.

 

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