The state of Kerala in southern India was the scene Sunday of a new attack on Catholics. This time, the victims were sisters from Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity, who were beaten while they were serving food to the poor.
According to “The Hindu” newspaper, the nuns were assaulted with rods by Hindu extremists and warned not to enter the local villages.
Four nuns, three brothers and two drivers from the congregation were treated for wounds to the head. At present police have rounded up 14 Hindus involved in the attacks.
The EFE news agency reported that the attacks took place in Kerala’s Kozhikode district, first when the sisters attempted to distribute food to “untouchables,” and second when the regional superior of the order arrived with seven other nuns to see what had occurred.
Some fifty individuals, carrying signs in support of extremist Hindu political parties, attacked the sisters and their companions.
Regional police chief Arvind Ranjan said, “These are very serious acts,” and he assured that police are investigating those responsible for the assaults.
Hindu extremists are responsible for a number of attacks and threats against Christians in different regions of India. They accuse the Missionaries of Charity of converting lower caste Hindus to Christianity.
Some regions have passed laws prohibiting Hindus from converting to other faiths.
Nevertheless, the Missionaries of Charity have denied they are engaging in proselytism. They tend to “Hindus, Muslims and Christians,” without requiring that anybody convert to Catholicism.
The Fides news agency published the official reaction of the Bishops Conference of India. “We strongly condemn the attacks against the Missionaries of Charity which took place yesterday in Kerala. We are very concerned about the worsening of Hindu fundamentalist groups who seek a political role,” said Fr. Babu Joseph Karakombil, spokesman for the Conference.
Fr. Karakombil added, “We have received the solidarity expressed by civil organizations and institutions, and by numerous Hindu, Muslim and Buddhist religious groups.”