Jharkhand Christian killed over "sacred cows". Msgr. Mascarenhas: Tragedy for Humanity

The victim, Prakash Lakra, was lynched to death by a group of 25 "cow protectors". Bishops General Secretary: "In Jharkhand politics fuels hatred". The list of harassment of Christians.

New Delhi (AsiaNews) – Lynched with swords, sickles and iron sticks: this is how a Christian tribal named Prakash Lakra died in the Indian state of Jharkhand. Together with three other men he was killed by a crowd of Hindu radical "cow protectors" for the suspicion of having slaughtered an ox, considered sacred by Hinduism.

Msgr. Theodore Mascarenhas, auxiliary bishop of Ranchi and general secretary of the Indian Bishops' Conference (CBCI), denounces to AsiaNews: "It is a tragedy for humanity, not only for Christians. The fact that such things happen in this century, in this "new India", is a shame ".

The three tribal wounded Christians are Janriush Minz (40), Peter Phuljans (50) and Belasus Tirkey (60). The incident occurred on the evening of April 10  on the road leading to the village of Jhurmu, in the district of Gumla. The group of 25 people surrounded Prakash and the other Christians and drove them with beatings and kicks to the Jairagi village police station. There the four men lay  dying until the first light of dawn, when the policemen arrived and transported them to the Community Health Center in Dumri district.

Later the police registered a complaint against the three survivors of illegal slaughter of cattle under the Jharkhand Bovine Animal Prohibition of Slaughter Act. In India the cow is considered sacred and is a sensitive issue for the Hindu majority community. Episodes of violence frequently occur against minorities that slaughter them for meat and the main victims are usually Muslims.

The secretary of the bishops believes that the fact is a very serious episode of intolerance, the result of blind violence that spares no one. "I condemn the incident, not just because the victims are Christians - he says - but because a crowd can kill just because they think they can do it. All this defames the good name of our society and our country ”.

Msgr. Mascarenhas recalls that this is not the first aggression against the Christian minority: "These things happen because authorities show no willingness to control this violence. To add infamy to this shame, in Jharkhand a mechanism has been set in motion by the authorities to create division and hatred against Christians".

In particular, the bishop cites a series of episodes that have contributed to fomenting the climate of intolerance and hatred: "Last year the Chief Minister of Jharkhand published on the front page of the newspapers an advertisement directed specifically against Christian missionaries, against the tribal converts calling them 'stupid and ignorant cows'; immediately afterwards he passed a law to prohibit conversions; then they threatened to remove the right of quotas reserved for tribals who convert. Then the accusations against the sisters of Mother Teresa [blamed for child trafficking, ed] and the Jesuit missionary arrested and falsely accused of a rape that was comitted by others and controls applied only to Christian NGOs ".

He continues: "We could go on and on recounting how hatred comes directly from the authorities. And this is not good for the country, not only for the Christian community that has always lived in harmony with everyone; it is not good for the peaceful society of Jharkhand; nor for India, which has a tradition of peace, harmony and religious tolerance ".

Msgr. Mascarenhas concludes, "the worst affected are the tribals and the poor and all those who stand by their side, like Card. Toppo, whose effigy was set on fire in retaliation by the radicals. This latest incident shows how far hate can go. When they burned the image of the cardinal I had already warned that it does not take much to move from ideology to physical violence. Those who sow hatred must know that they are putting the future of this country at risk ".