Bishop kidnapped and assaulted

A Catholic bishop in southern India was kidnapped and assaulted by attackers who demanded money.

Bishop Prasad Gallela of Cuddapah in Andhra Pradesh state was blindfolded, handcuffed and abducted while he was travelling home after celebrating Mass at Karunagiri Shrine on April 25.

The bishop said that unidentified kidnappers came in two vehicles and took “me to an undisclosed location”, reported.

“They hit me and punched me resulting in injuries all over my body. I did not resist,” Bishop Gallela, 54, said.

“Police are trying to find those behind the incident,” he said.

The bishop said that the kidnappers kept on asking him about the financial transactions of the diocese.

The kidnappers also demanded 5 million rupees (US$75,325) and said that since “I help so many people, I should help them too”, the bishop recounted.

“When I asked who they were, they said they are from the police but police does not behave like this,” he said.

The prelate said that early the next day the kidnappers let him go and left him 90 kms away from where his diocese is based.

“They appeared to be paid goons and non-Christians from the way they talked and behaved,” said Bishop Gallela.

The bishop reportedly has wounds on his head and his face.

He is receiving treatment for his injuries.

Archbishop Thumma Bala of Hyderabad has condemned the incident.

“It is unbelievable that such a violent atrocity is perpetrated on a high ranking religious leader of a minority community, who is totally dedicated to the service of the needy and marginalised,” the archbishop said in a statement.

Archbishop Bala appealed to law enforcement authorities to investigate the case thoroughly and bring to book the culprits.

Activists say on average there’s one physical attack on a Christian somewhere in India every two days.

There has been a recent rise in Hindu extremism.

Bishop Gallela serves in a diocese with a Catholic population of 81,000.

In this diocese, 95 per cent of Catholics are landless agricultural labourers known as “Dalits”, the “untouchables” under India’s ancient caste system.


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