Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Indian priest attacked in church on Christmas Eve

January 10, 2005

An Indian priest needed 17 stitches after being attacked at the altar of his church on Christmas Eve.

The Reverend Father Saji Abraham was preparing to conduct a service at St. Thomas Orthodox Church, Banswara, Rajasthan. When he went to the sacristy to put aside the holy bread for use during the worship, he was followed by three men.

He asked them to remain outside, but was attacked with metal rods. The priest fell down under the force of the blows, suffering heavy bleeding from his head injuries. When he regained consciousness, he rang church members for help on his mobile phone. He was taken to hospital where he was last reported to be in a critical condition.

On the same day, a Christian driver in Ahmedabad, Gujarat , was reportedly attacked when he asked for a salary advance to celebrate Christmas. Robinson Joseph had petrol poured over him and was set on fire. He suffered about 26 percent burns and was admitted to hospital. The All India Christian Council (AICC) took up his case with the local police, but was told the accused had fled.

There have been a number of other incidents in India over the last few weeks where Christians have been threatened or attacked. Again in Gujarat, anti-Christian pamphlets and books accused Christians of forcibly converting Hindus from poor backgrounds in the south of the state. On December 18, the police arrested a man allegedly working for an organization linked to the militant Hindu Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) after he was found distributing such leaflets.

In Rajasthan, two Christian pastors were attacked on December 10 on their way to a prayer service by a group which accused them of converting others. The police protected the men from the attackers who reportedly belonged to the Hindu extremist Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) group.

Also in Rajasthan, a Christian orphanage in Baran reported in early December that it may have to relocate because of anti-Christian threats. Despite police protection, tensions in the region have forced the orphanage to relocate the children.