India: Priest in Critical Condition After Hindu Mob Attack on Catholics

Christian persecution

A mob of 35 people attacked Father Jose Kannumkuzhy and three lay people in southern India as they sat in a car to speak with police. The priest remains in critical condition.

“He is still unconscious and often cries not to attack him. It will take time for him to recover,” explained Father Veeppattuparambil, spokesman for the Ramanathapuram Syro-Malabar diocese.

The four men wanted to speak with the police over the arrest of another “priest and two others from a church-run care center.” People in the community protested against the care center after a child died. They believe “the center was not attending to their patients properly.”

“Father Kannumkuzhy fell down on the road and the mob kicked him, stamped him on the stomach and wanted to kill him by hitting him with a boulder,” said Father Veeppattuparambil.

The mob, who allegedly belong to Hindu groups, dragged the men for 1.5 miles and stole their phones. Father Veeppattuparambil claimed the police never helped or sent medical help.

“To add fuel to the fire, the police made the bleeding victims stand before the media and allowed them to take photographs as if they were culprits,” he continued.

The driver asked police for help, but they “refused to intervene.” The mob threw granite stones at the men as they lay on the ground. They then “kicked them viciously.”

Father Veeppattuparambil claimed “attacks on Christians and Muslims by pro-Hindu groups have increased since the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party government came to power in 2014.”

In April, Deva Sadhvi Thakur, the vice president of the radical Hindu group “All India Hindu Mahasabha,” demanded proposals to save the Hindu population, including sterilizations of religious minorities.

“The population of Muslims and Christians is growing day by day. To control this, the central government must declare a state of emergency and force Muslims and Christians to undergo sterilization, so that they can’t increase their numbers,” she declared.

Authorities in Madhya Pradesh arrested twelve people for converting to Christianity, including one blind couple with their three-year-old child.

Hindu Fundamentalist groups carried out five attacks against Christians over five days in March 2015. A mob attacked a hostel for mentally disabled children run by Augustinian nuns. More criminals stormed three churches, where they destroyed crucifixes and vandalized the property. They wanted to set the buildings on fire, but witnesses intervened.

Christians also demanded more protection after the rape of a 75-year-old nun. At least twelve armed men gang-raped the woman in a convent school. The men then “ransacked the school and vandalized the chapel.” Officials rushed the nun to the hospital, where she underwent surgery.

“Earlier they had disconnected two of the three telephone lines, indicating the planning that had gone into the attack and robbery. Out of the 12 CCTVs, only four were found to be functioning,” described church officials.