12/15/2016, 09.42
INDIA
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Rajasthan, 20 Carol singing Catholics beaten for "forced conversions"

by Nirmala Carvalho

The faithful belong to Tikariya parish, which annually organizes carol services in private homes. Among them were women, children and sisters. The priest also attacked, admitted to hospital.

 

Banswara (AsiaNews) – A group of Catholics have been savagely beaten and accused of carrying out forced conversions for holding Carol services in private homes.  The episode took place in the village of Tikariya, near the city of Banswara, in the State of Rajasthan. The attacked belong to the Church of St. Peter and Paul, in the diocese of Udaipur. Among them is also the parish priest, Fr. Stephen Rawat, who told AsiaNews: "I have no enemies, I was beaten because of my Christian faith."

Fr. Rawat reports that there is a hostel of the RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh), near the scene of the attack "where the ideology [Hindutva] is imparted to young people. It is not improbable that they were behind this attack against Christians. "

Like every year the Tikariya parish organizes Christmas carols services in Catholic homes. This year the group consisted of 20 worshipers, including three nuns, women and children. The visit in the homes started on 11 December last, but yesterday the tradition was interrupted by the brutal beating.

About 30 attackers armed with sticks and batons, awaited the group and hurled themselves upon the group after the service, while Catholics were heading toward the parked cars. The three sisters were spared by the attackers because they were still in the house, and the children were able to escape.

Eight Catholics were beaten so severely by the attackers shouting "Bharat Mata ki Jai" (Victory to Mother India). The wounded, some with obvious injuries, were transported to Mahatma Gandhi Hospital (the government hospital). Three of them were discharged after medication, while Fr. Rawat, three women and a man remain hospitalized for observation and medical care.

(Photo by Grace Markus, director of the pastoral center Banswara)

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