Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Catholic Bishop, priests attacked in Maharashtra, India

Mumbai (ICNS) -- Bishop Thomas Dabre of Vasai and his three priests were pelted with stones as they opened a hostel for tribal children in a village.
A priest sustained head injuries in the Jan. 29 attack in Ghosali village of Mukada Taluka, which comes under Bishop Dabre's Vasai diocese in Maharashtra.

Bishop Dabre and Fathers Oneil Faroz, Philip Vaz and Andrew Rodrigues were inaugurating the Suryodaya Ashram, a hostel to help tribal children's education.

"Miscreants who allegedly belonged to the Bajrang Dal and Vanvasi Kalyan Parishad numbering over a hundred were armed with sticks," according to a statement from Bombay Catholic Sabha (forum). Vasai was formerly part of Bombay archdiocese.

The attackers shouted slogans and threw stones at the gathering. "This was intimidation of its worst kind. Had it not to be for the strong opposition of the villagers, who repulsed the attack by the hooligans something worse could have happened," the statement said.

It said the presence of more than 300 members of the Bajrang Dal and Vanvasi Kalyan Parishad triggered off ugly scenes.

The activists were under the impression that the educational institutions would convert some of the students to Christianity, informed Abraham Mathai, vice chairman of the Minorities Commission.

The statement wanted the "fascist elements" appreciate "the good work done" by the Church for the marginalized. It also asked the attackers "to have the guts to follow" Church's example of social service.

The statement said BCS officials have taken this matter with Maharashtra Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh.

They have also contacted Deputy Chief Minister and Home Minister R.R. Patil to ensure "adequate protection" for Bishop Dabre, Suryodaya Ashram, its children and other the Christian Institutions in the Thane District, it said.

Click Here for Source