By Matters India Reporter
Ujjain: A group of some 60 people on March 12 forcibly occupied part of a Catholic hospital’s land and roughed up nurses and other workers in the central Indian city of Ujjain.
Pushpa Mission Hospital, managed by the Syro-Malabar diocese of Ujjain, has faced trouble for some time after the assistant to the local parliamentarian allegedly used fake documents to claim ownership of part of the hospital property.
“Some 60 masked men armed with cycle chains and pickaxes came with bulldozers around 9 am and broke the front gate of the hospital and fenced off some 2,000 square feet of the hospital land,” Father Vineesh Mathew, director of Ishvani, the communication wing of Ujjain diocese, told Matters India.
The 146-bed hospital managed by the Syro-Malabar diocese sits adjacent to the bishop’s residence in Ujjain, an ancient city in Madhya Pradesh state.
Father Mathew said the intruders beat some nurses and pushed around nuns when they went to check the commotion.
They claimed that a local court has authorized them to occupy the disputed site.
Sacred Heart Sister Elsy Jacob, who works in the hospital, said the intruders beat four nurses and pushed around others, including her, when they went to enquire the commotion.
She said their electricity connection was snapped after the intruders damaged their transformer. “We are operating some sections with the help of a generator,” she told Matters India.
Father Mathew said police officials ignored their appeal for help.
Sister Jacob said when they went to the women’s police station they were directed to go to the main police station. “When we went there, the officer said he had already sent force for our security. On rushing back we found no police at the hospital,” she lamented.
Father Mathew said the local civic body had given the disputed property to the hospital to use as parking area.
He said the attackers were supporters of Gagan Singh, the parliamentarian’s assistant, who accuses the Church of illegally occupying the disputed site.
On July 27, Singh came with members of the Bharatiya Janata Party and tried to take over the land. However, the church obtained a “stay order” to maintain the status quo from the Madhya Pradesh state High Court.
Later, the police charged four Catholic priests with rioting after they resisted attempt by Hindu group to take over the hospital.
Church officials say charges against them were framed under political influence.
Tension intensified after revenue officials arrived to measure and demarcate the land. A crowd also claimed a portion of the land.
The hospital has used the land for at least four decades.