Bishop attacked in Bangalore as police look on

Bangalore, India – The bishop of Bangalore in the Indian state of Karnataka and some Claretian priests of his diocese were attacked by a crowd of Hindu fundamentalists yesterday morning. The violence followed an overnight attack on a church and school run by the religious community.

Everything started in the afternoon of 17 December, when a group of parents of students attending the school run by the Claretians accused its director of “misbehaviour” with the students. Later, in the night, a crowd of activists of Sangh Parivar – a standard that groups currents of Hindu extremism – attacked and vandalised the church of St Thomas and the school run by the religious order on the outskirts of Bangalore. When the priests went out to see what happening, they were attacked too.

When they went to the police station to report the incident, the Claretians discovered, to their amazement, that a report had already been filed, against them! They immediately informed the archbishop of Bangalore, Mgr Bernard Moras, who went to the scene of the incident yesterday morning. When he arrived, a group of fundamentalists attacked his car, breaking the windscreen but luckily not managing to harm the bishop. “As we arrived at the school gate, our car was attacked,” Archbishop Moras was quoted as saying on the website of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI). “They tried to hit me but I escaped injury.” The archbishop was accompanied by his secretary, Fr Anthony Samy, who added: “The police were there but were only mute spectators. They were there in sufficient numbers to intervene. At least, they could have warned us not to proceed to the school gate.”

The attack was strongly condemned by the CBCI secretary-general, Mgr Stanislaus Fernandes, by the archbishop of Mumbai, Mgr Oswald Gracias and by the one of New Delhi, Mgr Vincent Concessao. All three urged the government of Karnataka to guarantee due security and protection to its citizens, especially members of minorities.