The December 14 incident of unprovoked violence against Catholic Priests and Seminerians in Satna in the Central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh has attracted condemnation from all sections of society, especially in Northeast India.
Tripura royal scion and PCC working president Maharaja Pradyot Bikram Manikya has said, ” Violence is a first sign of cowardice. The attack by Bajarang Dal activists on helpless Christians for singing Christmas Carol has to be condemned. I ask all those self proclaimed protectors of my Hindu religion who has given you the mandate to speak for us. I have always spoken out against fanatic elements in all faiths, be it the murder of innocent Hindus by self styled revolutionaries masking under the name of Christians in Tripura or this which has happened today. Two wrongs do not make right. We as right meaning citizens should be alarmed at the levels of intolerance we have in our society”.
Director of Social Communication, Maio Diocese, Arunachal Pradesh Father Felix Anthony in a statement to TNT- The Northeast Today said, ” Carol Singing is a practice that has been going on for ages. Attack on Church leaders is not a new phenomena but what makes it worse this time is the fact that the attackers enjoy patronage from different quarters. It almost looks like a crime to be a Christian. Moreover, this attack comes in the guise of conversion to Christianity. The increase in the number of such crimes is very worrying. The most worrying aspect of this incident is that there are people trying to defend this act by giving justifications for it. Any Indian with a rational mindset would be worried at the ongoing turn of events”.
Speaking to TNT- The Northeast Today , Shillong MP and Congress leader from Meghalaya, Vincent Pala reacted strongly strongly to the incident and said, “Everybody has the freedom of speech and expression and I think the BJP is trying to restrict this which is very wrong. This is not the first of its kind incident and the most shameful part about the incident is the fact that the government is involved in this and we strongly condemn this kind of incident”.
Rev. Dr. Wati Aier from Nagaland also condemned the incident and said, “Whatever is happening in the country. This country will have to have religious tolerance, we have to honour democracy… when nation was found…. religious tolerance was one of its principal… the religious fundamentalist approach is wrong… be it Hindu, Christian or Islam fundamentalism is wrong”.
When contacted, the Archbishop of Shillong Rev. Dominic Jala was unavailable for any comments on this issue.
It may be recalled that a group of 30 Seminarians and 2 priests from St. Ephrem’s Theological College in Satna were detained as they were conducting a routine Christmas Carol singing programme. A group of carol singers and two priests were detained for hours by the police in Satna in Madhya Pradesh last evening after they were accused by the right wing group Bajrang Dal of forcing religious conversions.
Later, a car used by some carolers who went to the police to find out about the detained priests was allegedly set on fire by activists of the same group. The police say a case has been registered against “unknown people” for the car-burning. The carolers – about 30 of them – were picked up by the police from a road as they were moving around the town singing carols for Christmas. According to police say they received a call that the carolers were involved in religious conversions in Satna, a town around 450 km from state capital Bhopal.