Mandapeta (Agenzia Fides) - Two statues of Jesus and the Virgin Mary were disfigured and damaged in a Catholic parish of the archdiocese of Visakhapatnam, in Andhra Pradesh, a State of southern India. The two statues were placed at the entry to the complex of the church of Santa Maria Maddalena in Mandapeta. As reported to Fides, a group of unknown people damaged and burned them on 22 September. "It is a rather unpleasant incident, and a complaint was presented to the local police station", said Father R. P. V. Prasad, Secretary of the diocese to Fides, reporting that further police investigations are underway.
It should be noted that last week there were episodes of desecration of Hindu temples and there was the burning of the canopy carrying the main Hindu deity in the streets of the village.
According to investigators, the burning of two Catholic statues could be a sort of reprisal after the accident in the Hindu temple.
Father Joseph Arlagadda, deputy secretary of the Council of Catholic Bishops of Telugu (which includes the Bishops of the ecclesiastical provinces of Hyderabad and Visakhapatnam and the diocese of Eastern rite in Telangana) observes to Fides: "These gestures are intended to disturb the peace in the district. One must not give in to provocations", inviting the Catholic faithful of the local parish of Mandapta, which has about 3000 baptized, to keep calm.
In India, there were 31 attacks on Christian places or Christians in August this year. Most of these attacks were reported in the states of Uttar Pradesh in Chhattisgarh, as reported by the website "MapViolence", run by the United Christian Forum (UCF), to report and monitor incidents of violence and hostility against the Christian community in India.
The organization reports that often, at the base of such violence, there is the spread of false news or tendentious propaganda: it is claimed, for example, that Christians are trying to convert Hindu faithful, even by offering money. Such news, artfully disseminated on social media, triggers violent reactions. "The Christian faithful are respectful of the law and have goodwill towards their fellow citizens", replies the UCF. (SD-PA) (Agenzia Fides, 24/9/2020)