Attack on Priests in Jharkhand Seen as Premeditated

Bishop Laments Incident in Indian State

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BOMBAY, India, AUG. 24, 2004 ( A pastor and curate were hospitalized after a group of men attacked a Catholic church in Kubbu, in the eastern state of Jharkhand.

The dozen or so assailants, ranging in age from 25 to 55, struck under the cover of darkness Sunday night. They entered the church armed with hatchets, swords and knives.

The curate suffered from serious knife wounds.

The attackers ransacked the parish house and emptied the church’s collection boxes. Police said they had no clues as to the criminals’ identity. Two guards have been posted at the church door to prevent further incidents.

Bishop Michael Minj of Gumia, a district in Jharkhand state, told AsiaNews that «the attack has shaken locals. The fact that the attackers were armed means that their act was premeditated.»

According to the Pontifical Institute of Foreign Missions (PIME), Jharkhand is governed by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which supports Hindu fundamentalism. A large part of the state’s population is Adivasi.

The Church has long been committed to empowering the Adivasis through education and development programs, but in doing so it has caused a backlash among Hindu fundamentalists who see the Church’s action as proselytizing.

PIME noted the great influence in the state of Hindu extremist formations supported by the BJP, such as Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (National Volunteer Corps) and Vishwa Hindu Parishad (World Hindu Council).

«Attacks against Christian institutions like the one that occurred on Sunday are worrying,» said Bishop Minj. By contrast, local law enforcement authorities were quick to dismiss the attack as a simple case of robbery.

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