ASIA/INDIA - "Despicable and inhuman" attack on a Catholic hospital, committed to the common good

Friday, 16 March 2018


Ujjain (Agenzia Fides) - It was a "despicable and inhuman" attack: this is how the Indian Bishops define and condemn the violent acts against the Catholic hospital in Ujjain, in the state of Madhya Pradesh. As Agenzia Fides learns, a delegation of the Bishops visited the missionary hospital yesterday, March 15, noting the events that occurred. The structure, run by the diocese of Ujjain, offers 200 beds for the maternity ward, and for 44 years provides quality medical services to the population of Ujjain and the surrounding rural areas. Most patients come from disadvantaged, marginalized and poor social groups who cannot afford health care. Thousands of patients visit the hospital every day and are treated without distinction of class, ethnicity or religion.
On March 12, over 60 militants, armed with chains and sticks, entered the hospital compound by force. They blocked access to the hospital and the emergency room and blocked access to electric generators and the water supply system, thus putting the lives and safety of innocent and defenseless patients at risk. The crowd verbally assaulted the nuns and the staff on duty.
The diocese of Ujjain filed a police report and also contacted the relevant government authorities, denouncing such "atrocities and acts of bullying".
The Indian Bishops' Conference, the Regional Episcopal Council of Madhya Pradesh and the Syro-Malabar Catholic diocese of Ujjain express "deep suffering, anguish and concern", stating that "the attack clouds the image of the whole Indian state".
"We ask the State and the government of the Union to punish the guilty and to guarantee the rule of law", said Mgr. Leo Cornelio, Archbishop of Bhopal, inviting the institutions "not to allow any individual or group to be above the law".
According to Fides’ reconstruction of facts, the attack is motivated by a dispute over the ownership of the land on which the hospital stands. The Catholic Church has formally owned it since 1961. Some local political powers are contesting and today they are claiming the property. The dispute is now before a court.
In recent months there have been other similar incidents, in which violent crowds target Catholic institutions in areas with a small minority of baptized people. Last January, an attack took place against St. Mary college in Vidisha. (PN) (Agenzia Fides, 16/3/2018)