Three days after a politically instigated mob demolished the boundary wall of a Catholic hospital in Ujjain in Madhya Pradesh, the local administration issued a prohibitory order to check tension and further activities in the disputed area. It’s a case of too little, too late. Political games with local goons being hand-in-glove with anti-minority politicians continue unabated in Madhya Pradesh. A Catholic Hospital, serving the people for the past 44 years, without incident, is suddenly being challenged by an ‘owner’ of the supposedly public land previously given to the hospital by the authorities.
A mob, (obviously instigated by a fellow called Gagan Singh, who claimed to be the ‘owner’ of the public land, the assistant to the local BJP MP for the area) broke down the wall of 44-year-old Pushpa Mission Hospital and blocked its emergency entrance, claiming the land in front of the hospital belongs to one of them.
“The administration suo moto issued a prohibitory order in the disputed area so that no activity can be carried out there until a further order,” Neeraj Pandey, police additional superintendent, and stated that the administration issued orders after ‘noticing construction’ on the disputed land.
Witnesses have spoken of police inaction on March 12 when about 60 people used bulldozers to demolish the wall and manhandled staff including nuns who attempted to resist the advancement. The attackers also damaged an electricity transformer, back-up power generators and water connections.
Pandey said the administration is working on restoring water and power connections to the hospital.
The hospital is running on temporary power and water connections taken from the neighboring building, Bishop Sebastian Vadakkel of Ujjain told the media.
The administration moved only after a delegation of four bishops including Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas, secretary-general of the national bishops’ conference, visited the area and demanded that state and federal governments act to ensure the rights and safety of Christians in Madhya Pradesh.
“Neither the state of Madhya Pradesh nor the federal government can afford to allow mobs to take the law into their own hands,” said a statement by Bishop Mascarenhas after he visited the hospital along with Bishop Vadakkel, Archbishop Leo Cornelio of Bhopal and Bishop Chacko Thottumarickal of Indore.
The dispute started in January after Gagan Singh, the personal assistant of a local parliamentarian, staked a claim over the land, which the hospital claims was given to it four decades ago for parking and maintaining its greenery.
The attack happened despite a pending court case about the dispute. It is widely held that the attackers have administrative support as the parliamentarian belongs to the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party that runs the state government.
“The use of political muscle and an arrogant display of violent might is nothing but terrorism and anti-nationalism. We condemn these acts of violence, terror, intimidation and forceful trespass as these actions pose a threat to the well-being and future of our beloved nation,” the bishops’ statement said.