The nuns suffered injuries in an attack against the Little Flower Higher Secondary School in Chinnasalem. Hindu extremists tried to strangle them with Rosary beads. Bishop Mascarenhas asks "What is this country coming to?"
New Delhi (AsiaNews) – The "four nuns wounded in the attack by Hindu radicals were discharged from hospital and are back in the convent,” said Sister Devaseer Mary, provincial superior of the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, speaking to AsiaNews.
The nuns in question were the victims of a vicious attack in Tamil Nadu by a crowd of 200 members of the extreme right-wing Hindu nationalist Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), who tried to strangle them with the rosary beads they wore around their necks.
"They were hospitalised for a few days,” Sister Devaseer explained, “first in the Kallakurichi Government Hospital, later at the Krishna Hospital in Cuddalore. Thanks to Divine Providence and the good guidance of our Lord, the sisters have recovered from pain and are now feeling better.”
The attack against the Little Flower Higher Secondary School in Chinnasalem, a Catholic educational facility located some 260 kilometres south-west of Chennai (Madras), took place on 26 March.
The school is run by the congregation to which the superior belongs and was founded 74 years ago to educate children of poor families. Presently, some 2,150 students are enrolled.
The building was devastated: classrooms, desks, windows, auditoriums. The attackers did not spare the chapel.
The attack was apparently a reaction to the suicide of a 10th grade student who was disappointed by her poor exam results.
"It seems that the reason for the attack was money,” the nun said, “but it is impossible to know what was in their mind. They only did what political parties and some influential local figures told them to do." Currently, "six people have been arrested and many others are under investigation is underway.”
According to Mgr Theodore Mascharenhas, general secretary of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India (CBCI), the incident "has nothing to do with money" since the nuns had already decided to help the student’s family before the desecration.
"For us, this attack is a very sad thing. The whole school was mourning the death of the girl. We love our pupils as if they were our children,” the prelate said.
"How is it possible for such a large crowd to act against a school? Why did no one stop them?" he asks. For the bishop, "power, violence left in the hands of a mob is a danger to everyone in India, not only for minorities. This is what troubles us. The problem is that in the country different groups are spreading a climate of hatred.”
"If it were just a question of money, they would not have desecrated the Crucifix. Even the attempt to strangle the sisters with their Cross, is a contempt of faith." Sadly, "Sisters strangled with the Crucifix? What is this country coming to?"
“In Indian culture sacred objects are sacred for everyone, regardless of religion,” Mgr Mascarenhas explained. “Such lack of respect, and the hatred caused by such lack of respect are the country’s greatest danger."
"We have already seen this kind of hatred in Kandhamal (2008 pogroms), in the killing of Rev Graham Staines in 1998 (burnt alive with two of his children), in various violent incidents, in the attack against schools in Sagar and Vidisha. As a people, the country must purge itself of such hatred.”