A 91-year-old Christian villager drugged and killed in Barisal
by Sumon Corraya

His son testified last year against a Muslim man in a rape case involving a neighbour who was attacked while she was alone in her home. Local Catholics are outraged and pained by the event. “We Christians are citizens of this country, but they persecute us because we are a minority,” lamented one protester.

Barisal (AsiaNews) – Malkam D'Costa, 91, died last week at his home in Padrishibpur, a village in Barisal (south-central Bangladesh). He was the eldest member of the local Catholic community.

His lifeless body was found in the morning, killed by drugs, which were also given to five members of his family who ended up in hospital.

No one is able to say what happened. But the incident has outraged and sparked fear among local Christians who have reason to believe that it was not just a robbery gone wrong, but a deliberate attack against a Christian family.

In fact, in 2021, a neighbour of Malkam D 'Costa was also forced to take a sleeping pill and then raped while she was alone at home. Her husband is employed as a nightwatchman at a Catholic school.

Once she regained consciousness, she filed a complaint against a Muslim man, Mohammad Alam, and Malkam D ’Costa's son testified in her favour despite the fact that the accused’s family put pressure on him to get the charges dropped.

For this reason, the Christians in Padrishibpur believe that the killing was an act of revenge connected to the rape case.

Yesterday a hundred Christians held a protest in the village. Voicing their anger, they shouted: “We want justice” and “Brother Malkam is in the grave, why are his killers still out?”

One of the demonstrators, Andrio D’Costa, spoke to AsiaNews. “We Christians are citizens of this country, but they persecute us because we are a minority,” he said. “We want to live peacefully and see the perpetrators of this murder punished.”

Following the incident, Archbishop Lawrence Subrato Howlader of Chattogram visited the victims and express his closeness and sadness to them.

Anol Terence D'Costa, convener of the Commission for Social Communication of the Diocese of Barisal, also spoke on the matter.

“Christians,” he told AsiaNews, “have been attacked twice in a year in the same way in Padrishibpur.” For him, this “is clearly an act of persecution. We want exemplary punishment”.