With Christmas a little over a week away, the festive mood among Christians in the northeast Indian state of Assam suffered a setback when they discovered their church vandalized.
Villagers on their way to work Saturday morning, found St Thomas Catholic Church and its grotto in Chapatoli village near Duliajan vandalized. They noticed the church door open and spotted the statue of Mother Mary knocked down from the grotto.
The unknown miscreants also damaged a crucifix inside the church, Johan Lugun, a local resident said. As the news spread, thousands of people flocked to the village from nearby areas.
Following reports of some local residents who are said to have seen the culprits sneak into the church the night before, police nabbed two suspects from the area for questioning.
Local legislator Terosh
Church urges justice, security
While condemning the attack, local Bishop Joseph Aind of Dibrugarh demanded a high-level inquiry into the incident, and to book and punish the culprits, especially the mastermind behind the act, so peace can be restored in the area.
The Salesian bishop lamented that certain forces with ulterior motives were seeking to sow seeds of hatred and discord among the people who have lived in peace in the tea garden enclaves and its peripheries.
“The government must also ensure security for the Christians especially during the Christmas season,” he demanded.
The incident has revived memories of earlier attacks on the community.
On Jun 20 this year, unidentified miscreants vandalized the Catholic Cathedral Church at Chapaguri in Chirang district and escaped with some valuables.
In June 2016, a parish priest and principal of a missionary school, Fr Sushil John Soren, was attacked by an unidentified person with a machete in Udalguri district’s Bhairabkunda village.
In August 2015, a statue Saint John Bosco, which was to be unveiled by then Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi at the Bharalumukh riverfront, was partially damaged and pushed into the Bharalu by a mob.
According to the 2011 census, Christians make up 3.74