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Monday, May 19, 2008

"Hindu Radicals Ransack Convent and Attack Two Nuns"

As we live out our peaceful day to day lives, the article below is a helpful reminder to pray for those whose vocations are lived out in far less peaceful regions of the world, where persecution and martyrdom are realities of life.

From ASSIST News Service
By James Varghese

MADHYA PRADESH, INDIA (ANS) -- A group of Hindu radicals recently ransacked a convent and attacked two nuns.

The attack occurred on May 15 in the early evening in the Indian State of Madhya Pradesh.

According to a story reported by the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) on the organization’s web site www.persecution.in, it was the Presentation Sisters Convent that was attacked.

The incident occurred at Gondarmug village under the Gandhinagar Police Station area in the outskirts of Bhopal, the state's capital.

GCIC reported that the Presentation Sisters have been working in the city’s underprivileged section for six years.

Convent Superior Sister Sister Silvya Francis told GCIC, “The (approximately 30 criminals) first forced their way into the convent campus. Then 12 of them barged into the convent through the main door, and began to destroy the window panes, television set, lantern and other furniture.”

The GCIC story reported the loss to be about $2500.

“They were armed with hockey sticks, cricket bats and stones,” the web site reported she added Francis also said, “they also climbed up the first floor of the two storied building, and dragged two of the novices down and manhandled them. Besides this, they tried to lock one of them into a room. However, both managed to escape from them. They had also disconnected the telephone line before entering into the campus.”

According to a story carried by www.ucanews.com, Francis said by phone that the attackers identified themselves as Hindus, and said they did not need the nuns there.

“We are not going to move out from here,” Francis told UCA News.

UCA News reported the sisters immediately filed a police complaint against the unidentified attackers. The next day, nine people were arrested.

Commenting on the incident, the spokesperson of the Catholic Church in Madhya Pradesh, Father Muttungal, told UCA News, “it is really sad to see the deteriorating religious harmony along with law and order. The state government have failed to follow the High Court interim direction to provide security to (the) Christian community. We will approach the court again ...”

UCA News reported that Christians in Madhya Pradesh have faced a series of violent attacks since the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP, the Indian People’s Party) came to power in the state five years ago. Church leaders and others also say intolerance of Christians has increased. The BJP is regarded as the political arm of Hindu groups that want to make India a Hindu nation.

Christian leaders told UCA News that such attacks continue, despite several petitions seeking protection for Christians from radical Hindu groups. They complain that nobody was punished for the attacks. In many instances, police register complaints against the Christian victims, accusing them of trying to forcibly convert Hindus to Christianity.

UCA News reported that of Madhya Pradesh’s 60 million people, 91 percent are Hindus. Catholics and other Christians together comprise less than one percent, but Catholic educational and health institutions are valued nonetheless. Since the BJP came to power, however, radical Hindu groups have been saying these organizations are just fronts for luring poor people to Christianity.

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