05/21/2009, 00.00
INDIA - ITALY
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“Defensor Fidei” prize awarded to Fr. Thomas Chellan, one of Orissa’s first victims

AsiaNews supported his candidacy. The priest risked being burned alive alongside a religious sister. May 23rd he will meet journalists on the theme “India, between democracy and persecution”.

Rome (AsiaNews) –Indian priest Fr. Thomas Chellan, one of the first to be targeted in the wave of radical Hindu violence in Orissa, arrives in Italy Tomorrow to received the “Defensor Fidei” prize awarded by the “Fides et Ratio” Foundation and the Catholic monthly “Il Timone”. The prize will be presented on Saturday May 23rd during “Timone Day” in Oreno di Vimercate. Ahead of the ceremony the priest will meet with journalists on the theme “India, democracy and persecution”.

Fr. Chellan’s candidacy was supported by AsiaNews, who was first to publish his testimony on September 3rd 2008 (ref: Orissa: after his calvary Father Thomas willing to go back to serve those who hurt him ). 

Fr. Thomas Chellan, 58, was the director of the Divyajyoti pastoral centre in Cuttack- Bhubaneshwar diocese. On August 25, 2008, two days into the pogrom against Christians, a group of about 50 Hindu thugs set upon him, stripped him naked and savagely beat him with sticks, axes and launches.  A religious sister working with him was subjected to the same violence.  Both risked being burnt alive after they were drenched in petrol.  Only at the end of their torture did the police intervene, almost as if it sympathised with the crowds.  Their pastoral centre in Kandhamal was among the first Christian constructions to be destroyed and burned.  After a period of rehabilitation, Fr. Thomas was moved to a secret location in India because he had received numerous death threats, where he currently lives.

 

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