05/25/2012, 00.00
INDIA
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Indian Kashmir, "unknown arsonists" set fire to a Catholic church

by Nirmala Carvalho
Main entrance burned, the rest preserved thanks to intervention of a security guard. Two assailants unknown. The pastor of Holy Family: "We are concerned, it is a premeditated attack." The President of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) calls for the intervention of chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir to protect the Christian community in the state.

Srinagar (AsiaNews) - An "planned" attack, with the clear goal of "scaring to death the Christian community. The chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir must act to ensure security for the faithful and places of worship", says Sajan George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), reacting to  AsiaNews to the arson attack on the Holy Family Catholic Church in Srinagar, two days ago. The main entrance was completely destroyed, but the timely intervention of a security guard prevented the fire from degenerating. Cameras captured two attacker who targeted the Church in the evening (20.30 hours the local, ed) their names are still unknown. All Christian communities in the valley of Kashmir have expressed solidarity with the Catholic Church.

The films show two men taking advantage of the temporary absence of the security guard. In those moments, the attackers threw petrol and other flammable material at the front door, then set it on fire. Fortunately, the guard came back in time to stop the fire to spreading: the entire building structure is made of wood.

Fr. Mathew Thomas, pastor of Holy Family, told AsiaNews: "What happened to us is very worrying. Watching the video, you understand that it is a premeditated attack, and that the two attackers were well aware of what happens in church. At the end of January, my bike was burnt, we have not found out why, nor who the culprits were.  It was clear that even then, the goal was the church. On two other occasions, the Virgin has interceded for us. May She protect us and save us forever. "

"What happened - said the president of the GCIC - is not an isolated case. I think the persecution suffered by Rev. CM Khanna over baptising young Muslims, or the couple arrested while at the market. With these gestures, the Muslim community is trying to intimidate the Christian minority. But there are not even 400 Christians in Srinagar: I appeal to Omar Abdullah, chief minister, a Muslim who studied in Christian institutions. He must protect the entire population of Srinagar, including minorities. "

The chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir (the only Indian state with a Muslim majority, ed) attended Burn Hall School, a prestigious Catholic institution directed by Fr. Jim Borst, Dutch missionary, for years accused of proselytizing.

 

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