A gang of armed men attacked a Catholic parish church in the city of Kubbu in the Lohardaga district of eastern Indian State of Jharkhand last Sunday night, sources say. According to AsiaNews, both parish priest and vicar were injured and admitted to hospital with the latter suffering serious knife wounds.
The Italy-based news agency reported that about a dozen or so attackers, age ranging from 25 to 55, entered the church building armed with hatchets, swords, and knives. The gang eventually made their escape, but not before ransacking the parochial house and emptying the church’s moneyboxes. The police arrive a while later at the crime scene and have yet to find any clue as to the attackers’ identity. It has however posted two sentries to guard the church against any further danger.
Michael Minj, Bishop of Gumla told AsiaNews that “the attack has shaken locals. The fact that the attackers were armed means that their act was premeditated.”
For a long time, the church had been committed to empowering the large tribal population residing in the Jharkhand State. However, in doing so the Church has experienced backlash among Hindu fundamentalists who see the Church’s actions as proselytizing.
“Attacks against Christian institutions like the one that occurred on Sunday are worrying,” Minj said.
Local law enforcement authorities, however, were reportedly quick to dismiss the attack as a simple case of robbery, and no further investigation seems to be planned since the attackers got away.
Minj says that the Church is awaiting the return of Cardinal Toppo, Archbishop of Ranchi (Jharkhand’s State capital), who is now in South Korea attending the Assembly of Asian Bishops. Upon his return, the Church intends to take up the case with State authorities.
Currently, in Jharkhand State, the pro-Hindu fundamentalism Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is in power, while organizations like the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (National Volunteer Corps) and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (World Hindu Council), which are even more extremist than the BJP, are prominent in the State.