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Asia

2003-10-13

ASIA/INDIA - KARNATAKA, DISQUIETING SIGNAL ON THE EVE OF MOTHER TERESA’S BEATIFICATION: MURDER OF CATHOLIC PRIEST LIVING IN ASHRAM COMMUNITY CENTRE, ASSASSINS PROBABLY HINDU FUNDAMENTALISTS

Dakar (Fides Service) – In India Hindu fundamentalists continue to target Christians. The most recent victim was Catholic priest Sanjeevananda Swami who lived in a Catholic Ashram in Belur, near Kolar in the archdiocese of Bangalore the main city of Karnataka state. Fr Swami, age 52, originally from Kerala, was brutally murdered on 7 October but the news has only just reached us and was confirmed by the archdiocese of Bangalore.
According to local church sources Fr Swami was arguing with neighbours over land property. Because of the dispute a group of people are said to have attacked him and so Father Swami took refuge in a nearby village but his aggressors found him and beat him up. In a desperate condition he was taken to hospital but died on the way. The attackers were said to be a group of at least of twenty. Police are holding several suspects in custody.
Local Christian organisations have called for an inquiry recalling that six months ago Father Swami had received threats from fundamentalist Hindus members of the Sangh Parivar movement. Sajan George head of the local branch of Christian Council of India told Fides Service: “Some people are trying to say the cause was a dispute over land, but this is false. Instead there are many Hindus fundamentalists in Kolar and they are behind the crime. The government must do more to protect minorities”.
Father Swami was born in Kerala state, at Palai a place known for many vocations. He was ordained in 1993 and with the permission of the Bishop he opened an Ashram community of prayer and social work where he lived. He was buried in Palai.
Ashams, Hindu community centres, have been adopted by Christians. The first Christian Ashram were opened by French priest Fr Jules Monchanin 1895-1957, Benedictines Henri Le Saux from France1910-1973 and Bede Griffiths 1906-1993 from Britain. PA (Fides Service 13/10/2003 EM lines 25 Words: 243)

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