By Shibu Thomas
Banswara: A group of unidentified people on December 14 attacked a Catholic carol group at Tikariya, a village just outside the Banswara town of Rajasthan state.
Fr Stephen Rawat, parish priest of Saints Peter and Paul Church in Banswara who led the carol team, told Matters India the attack took place around 7:45 pm. The parish belongs to Udaipur diocese.
He said his group had finished singing carols at one house and was walking toward their parked vehicle when around 25 young people , hiding in the dark, attacked them with sticks. The attackers did not even spare women and children in the group. They accused the Christians of converting people and shouted “Bharat Mata ki Jai’ (Victory to Mother India), Fr Rawat said.
The priest also said he and four men were wounded in the attack and were admitted in a hospital in Banswara, some 510 km south of Jaipur, capital of Rajasthan state.
The Catholic priest said he considers it as a privilege to be beaten up for Lord Jesus Christ. “Jesus Christ was killed for saving mankind, then why can’t I be beaten up for saving the perishing souls?” he asked.
The priest also said he has forgiven his attackers. “May God speak to them and let them repent from their sins,” he prayed.
He also requested other Christians to pray that the persecution should not discourage his people and that they stay steadfast in their faith until the end.
More than half of the mission stations under Udaipur diocese are in Banswara district. The diocese therefore set up a center in the district headquarters.
In 1979, Fr Antony Vettikatt started the work in Banswara city by staying in a rented house. Later, Fr Varghese Kaipadakunnel bought a plot of land in Tikariya and opened a parish and an English medium school there.
The Mission Sisters of Ajmer help in the parish activities and teach in the school. The parish church was blessed on June 29, 2006, by Bishop Joseph Pathalil.