A number of Catholics from different parishes who were celebrating the priestly ordination of the first priest from the island of Majuli, in the Indian state of Assam, were harassed, threatened, and in some cases beaten, after participating in a Mass celebrated by Bishop Joseph Aind of Dibrugarh.
According to the L’Osservatore Romano, upon returning to their homes, the hundreds of faithful who came to the ordination “were intercepted by a group of (Hindu) extremists. The members of the Catholic community of Mariani, the largest group present at the ceremony, were blocked by a mob of 600 fanatics along the road that leads to the wharf from which they were to leave the island.”
The newspaper reports that “a pastor, Father Caesar Henry, and the rector from a local school, Father G.P. Amalraj, who traveled together with the faithful, said they were beaten and then forced to take their boots off and walk. Afterwards some of the faithful from the group were beaten.”
The “Hindus shouted at the community, especially at the missionaries, who were also threatened,” L’Osservatore Romano reports.
“We just celebrated the 60th anniversary of the Republic,” Father Henry said. “Are we not Indians too? Do we not have the right to move about freely without being assaulted and persecuted because we are a group of believers and we profess our faith?” he asked. “The Constitution guarantees freedom and equal rights to all.” Do Hindu spiritual leaders teach followers to “abuse and terrorize innocents and simple people who want to participate in a public and religious celebration,” he pointedly asked.
In a press release, the Christian community of the state of Assam condemned the attacks, emphasizing that they were acts that “gravely harmed religious sentiment, and therefore, we strongly protest against the grave violations of human rights and the dignity of persons.”