By Matters India Reporter
Sundargarh: The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) and Odisha Bishops have urged people of Sundargarh district not to give in to divisive forces.
On 1, April 2018, in the late night of Easter Sunday, some miscreants vandalized a grotto outside the compound of St. Thomas Church, Salangabahal in Raurkela diocese, Odisha, mutilated the statue of Our Lady, and broke the head of the statue of Child Jesus in the grotto. They smashed a statue of Our Lady in another Grotto in Gyanpali village and attempted to burn the Church of the Victory of the Cross in Bihabandh.
The antisocial elements had also chopped off the head of a statue of a bull at the Shiva Temple in the vicinity.
On April 7, a delegation of Bishops which comprised of Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas SFX, the Secretary-General of the CBCI, Archbishop John Barwa SVD, Regional Chairman of the Odisha Catholic Bishops’ Council, Bishop Kishor Kumar Kujur of Rourkela, Bishop Telesphore Bilung SVD of the Archdiocese of Ranchi, Bishop Emeritus Alphonse Bilung of Rourkela, visited the affected areas.
The prelates addressed the crowds and thanked them for their peaceful and prayerful response to the incidents. They told the people that they shared their shock, deep anguish and pain. Condemning the attacks on both the Christian and Hindu places of worship, they exhorted them not to fall prey to the divisive forces.
According to the assessment of the security forces, there seems to be a systematic premeditated ploy to disturb the peace of the people who have been living in age-old harmony with each other in these villages.
It appears that the anti-social elements targeted the holy places of two communities seeking to create a communal divide.
Bishop Kujur thanked District Administration and the Superintendent of Police for their immediate action and for personally visiting and supervising the social security by camping in the locality, and for providing security personnel not only in the affected places but also giving adequate protection to the Churches in the district.
“While we reiterate that the incidents against the places of worship should have never happened and bring us shame and pain, we are proud of the people of Sundargarh District who have shown that we are capable of fighting the forces that want to divide us and polarize us,” bishops said in a press note.