Eight priests beaten, vehicle burned

Eight priests who were beaten by 100 Hindu extremists outside an Indian police station and had their vehicle burned say the police did nothing to help them.

“They [the Hindu mob] set our vehicle on fire, forcing us to take shelter inside the police station,” Fr Anish Emmanuel says.

He says he and his confreres were at the police station to support several seminarians and two other priests who were arrested on 14 December and have been held in custody ever since, for allegedly trying to convert non-Christians.

The 14 December arrests occurred after the priests and seminarians went to a local village to sing Christmas carols.

They were arrested and charged with violating a state law, as it is a criminal offence to attempt to convert anyone using fraud, inducement or allurement.

Fr George Mangalappally, who was with the seminarians, says when they were singing an angry mob started shouting slogans at them.

The mob interpreted the Christmas carols as “conversion activities”.

“One of them called police and demanded action against us,” Mangalappally says.

A police officer says after the singers were arrested and charged, they were kept in protective custody.

He says there were fears they would be attacked if released immediately.

Bishop Joseph Kodakallil of Satna says the diocese had been experiencing hostility for the past two years.

Over 650 attacks on Christians have been reported so far this year.


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