Three Martyrs remembered in Gumla District

Thousands of people flocked to Karondabera church in Gumla to recall the martyrdom of three catholic priests murdered 28 years ago. The annual event, interrupted for two years because of the Corone Virus related restrictions, was held with renewed fervour.

According to Fr. Cyprian Kullu the Vicar general of Gumla diocese “Jharkhand tri martyrs still have enormous respect in the Catholics of Jharkhand. After 28 years of the murder of three catholic priests, people still gather around their tombs to pray.”

The memorial service was organized at Karondabera parish of Gumla diocese to commemorate Fr. Lawrence Kujur, Fr. Joseph Dungdung and Br. Amar Indwar. Who were killed in 1994 at Karondabera parish, few of the first priests at Karondabera parish. The place was then a part of Bihar now belongs to Jharkhand state. Gumla diocese´s Karondabera parish, is 1,250 kilometers southeast of New Delhi.

Poster of the three murdered priests

The programme was started at 9 am with a rosary, followed by procession and holy mass in which the students, parishioners and Catholics from other parishes participated. The holy mass was concelebrated by Most Reverend Felix Toppo, Archbishop of Ranchi.

Father Lawrence Pingal, speaking to this reporter narrated the incident. On  the night of September 1, 1994 the two priests  and one seminarian were brutally killed at Karondabera. The attack was planned by one of Fr. Lawrence’s high school students as a retaliation to disciplinary action for bad behaviour. The boy aided by an anti-social adult from the village influenced his other friends in the hostel. They called the priest out of his room in the night on the pretext that one of the boys was sick. When the priest came out of his room, they attacked him. Fathers Dungdung and Indwar hearing the commotion came out and they were also attacked by the gang.

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Parishioners arriving for Sunday Mass on the next day found the mutilated bodies of the three. According the media reports at the time, assailants stabbed Father Kujur (age-69), and beheaded Father Dungdung, (age-43). Indwar (age-25), was found with his skull blown off.

The prosecution said six armed people, including five schoolboys, killed the priests. The police arrested four boys, while unidentified people killed the fifth. The schoolboys were the students at the missionary school.

Death sentence was given to two students, and the other two were released by the court. Later, the death sentences were reduced to life imprisonment.

Before 1994 the parish had high school for boys and girls later another high school was started there. According to the old Catholics this scary incident shocked the local and tribal church but later this became the reason of strength for people.

“The blood of the martyrs on that land has gained people’s faith in Jesus. This incident brought a new wave of faith and formation in the tribal church, the incident has also become the reason in the increased number of visitors.” Fr. Linus Pingal Ekka shared with Newsnet One.

Prepared by HARSHIT PAUL from media reports and interview

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