India’s Catholic Church condemns attack on Catholic hospital
By Robin Gomes
India’s Catholic Church has vehemently condemned the recent attack on a Catholic mission hospital in central India’s Madhya Pradesh state, as “armed goondaism and terrorism”.
On March 12, some 60 militants, armed with a bulldozer and sharp-edged weapons, forced themselves into the compound of Pushpa Mission Hospital in Ujjain, pulling down the boundary wall and damaging property, Hospital director, Father Anthony Pulickamandapam told UCANEWS.
He said hospital staff, including nuns, who tried to resist the vandalism were manhandled and forced to flee, the back-up power generator destroyed and water supply was disrupted, putting the lives of nearly 200 patients including 12 in the intensive care unit in serious danger.
Bishops condemn attack
Three days after the heinous attack, a delegation of four bishops including Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas, the secretary general of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI), visited Pushpa Mission Hospital.
OPthers in the delegation were Bishop Sebastian Vadakkel of Ujjain, Archbishop Leo Cornelio of Bhopal and chairman of the Madhya Pradesh Regional Bishops’ Council, and Bishop Chacko Thottumarickal of Indore.
A press statement signed by Bishop Mascarenhas, Bishop Vadakkel and Archbishop Cornelio, condemned the March 12 incident saying the “dastardly and inhuman attack” by “goondas and anti-social elements enjoying political and financial clout” which they said has “tarnished the image of the State of Madhya Pradesh and of India.”
For 44 years, the hospital of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Diocese of Ujjain, has been largely serving patients from disadvantaged, marginalized and poor social groups who cannot afford health care. They are treated regardless of their class, ethnicity or religion.
Fr. Pulickamandapam explained that the hospital has been facing trouble since January after the personal assistant of a local parliamentarian staked a claim to the land in front of the hospital that the local civic body had given to the hospital for use as a parking area and to maintain its greenery. Pushpa Mission Hospital has moved the court.
Police, authorities inaction
The three bishops described the “inaction of the administration” as “worrisome and disturbing” saying police and government authorities have failed despite several complaints and requests for protection.
The Catholic Church “condemns unequivocally the mobocracy”, the statement said, recalling earlier attacks on Catholics and their institutions in Satna and St. Mary’s college in Vidisha.
They called upon the State and Union governments to immediately bring to task the culprits and ensure the rule of law. “Neither the State of Madhya Pradesh nor the Union Government can afford to allow mobs to take the law into their own hands,” they said.
Finally authorites move
Following the bishops’ visit and press release, the local authority issued a prohibitory order to check tension and further activities in the disputed land.
"The administration suo moto issued a prohibitory order in the disputed area so that no activity can be carried out there until a further order," Neeraj Pandey, police additional superintendent, told UCANEWS on March 16.