ASIA/INDIA - Another convent attacked in Bihar - Cardinal Toppo speaks to Fides: “Let’s not generalise: India is still an example of tolerance and harmony”

Wednesday, 22 June 2005

New Delhi (Fides Service) - Despite a recent appeal from the Catholic Bishops of India to the government to guarantee more protection for religious minorities, another episode of violence upset the Catholic Church in India. Yesterday June 21 a convent and social centre for disabled children at Ragir in the central Indian state of Bihar was attacked and looted by 10 men armed with guns and knives.
Cardinal Telesphore Toppo, President of the Indian Bishops’ Conference told Fides: “These episodes are serious but we must not generalise and paint India as a country of intolerance. These are only isolated cases, perpetrated by small groups. The real reasons must be found and gangs of criminals must be identified. I believe India can still be said to be an example of harmony and a great democracy also because the government does not support fundamentalism it is intent on eradicating it”.
Cardinal Toppo said: “As the local Catholic Church we must continue along our path of inter-religious dialogue and social assistance working with and for the local people. With the people on our side we have nothing to fear”.
Ten armed men broke into the convent in Bihar and attacked the Nazareth Sisters of Charity. One of the Sisters, Sr Rose Plathottam said the men sacked the building and carried away objects of value but that neither the nuns nor the children at the hostel were hurt.
This is the third attack on convents in Bihar in a month. Only days ago the Bishops of India issued a statement calling on the government to assure more protection for minorities and take urgent measures to stop the violence.
Local Church sources say that besides Hindu fundamentalist the area is infested with gangs of thieves.
(PA) (Agenzia Fides 22/6/2005 righe 32 parole 345)