October 22, Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh): Fr. Anand Muttungal reports: Some unidentified miscreants set fire a Catholic Church in Tikamgarh district in Madhya Pradesh today.
Madhya Pradesh Isai Mahasangh in a press statement asked the state government to provide proper security to the Christian community in the state.
Mahasangh President Mr. Kurishinkal Joshi said, “It is an attempt to terrorize the community ahead of the state Assembly polls.”
The incident came to notice when the Sisters of Secret Heart nuns working in the parish went to the Church at 5.15 in the morning to open the Church when they found smoke billowing out of it and immediately informed Fr. Siju John, the Assistant Parish priest of Little Flower Church about it. He immediately called up the police and they all helped in dousing the fire.
Father Siju John said, “It looks that they must have set the Church in fire in the early morning”.
They have poured kerosene or some other inflammable substance to set the door of the Church to fire. The carpet near to the Church also got fire and burnt partially. However, before the fire spread to other parts of the Church it was put off .
A delegation lead by Fr. Siji called on the district collector and an FIR has been lodged with the police.
Reacting to the incident Satna Bishop Rev Dr. Mathew Vaniakizhakkel, expressed displeasure that the district administration have not taken the incident very seriously. He asked security for the Christians and asked Christians to pray for those bent to attack the community.
Later the district collector Mr. K P Rahi, visited the site and reviewed security provided. The Superintend of Police, Mr. Sushanti Saxena said, “we have ordered high level enquiry and we have identified all the Churches in the district, he assured that we will provide security.”
The state will go for polls to elect its new government on November 25 and the process of election is underway as the term of the present government will expire on December 14. The electorate will exercise their franchise to elect 230 persons into the state assembly.
The community feels that the attack is of the Hindu fundamentalist strategy to create communal divide between Christians and majority Hindus painting the community as proselytizers.
Reacting to the incident, the spokesperson of the Catholic Church in Madhya Pradesh, Father Anand Muttungal told, “we want protection and action against the culprits”.
While describing the act of desecrating a place of worship as the most heinous one, he said, the state government’s inaction to such activities in the past boosted the morale of the hooligans to continue to harass the community.
During the regime of the present government, he said, more than 171 incidents of attacks took place on church personnal, the institutions and worship places of the community which included violent attacks on community members as well in the state.
Evangelical Fellowship of India request prayers for the protection and wellbeing of the Christian community in BJP run states that, as the above incident is any indication, are a fresh target just before the coming elections. Kindly pray that the proper support shall be provided to Churches, Institution and to the christian community as a whole.
Rev. Dr. Richard Howell
Evangelical Fellowship of India
New Delhi, India
Evangelical Fellowship of India (established 1951) is a charter member of World Evangelical Alliance, an accredited NGO with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations