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INDIA – Catholic school headmaster beaten and detained on false charges

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Raipur (Agenzia Fides) – A totally unjustified attack on a Catholic school provoked anger and distress among Catholics in the central-northern Indian state of Chhattisgarh, Fides was informed by Archbishop Victor Henry Thakur, of Raipur. Nirmal Rani English Medium School at Khursipar, close to Raipur, capital of Chhattisgarh state, was the target of a completely unjustified attack by violent thugs, sympathisers with the Baratiya Janata Party (BJP), the Party of the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The vandals attacked the headmaster, a priest, Fr Ligo Mathew, falsely accusing him of using insults and violence with pupils. After breaking into the school, the thugs beat and insulted the headmaster. Some teachers, who heard cries and noise and ran to the spot, were also beaten. The local police, informed by other teachers, arrived to escort Fr Ligo to the nearest police station, while a crowd of extremists shouted slogans against the headmaster. The priest was taken before a magistrate who confirmed the charges issuing an order for 14 days detention. A request for bail made by the local Church was rejected. Later the thugs in a state of complete drunkenness returned to the school and damaged the headmaster’s office and other rooms.

The local Catholic Church, the Bishop said, organised a day of prayer and fasting as a peaceful manner of protest and also to demand an impartial investigation into the event and for a report to be sent to the government commission for human rights.

“We consider totally unfounded the charges brought against Fr Matthew Ligo. The priest, as headmaster for 16 years, has always shown respect and concern towards all the pupils, while being fully committed to guaranteeing quality education” the Bishop told Fides, calling for a return to justice after this arbitrary violence against Christians. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 2/9/2014)

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