Tura Salesian priest goes missing in Bihar

October 31, 2011 by  
Filed under Bihar, India, Meghalaya, newsletter-india, Persecution

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shocking case of kidnapping, a 57-year-old Salesian priest

Prof. (Fr.) Francis Fernandez (photo 2009)

Meghalaya,  October 30, 2011: In what is suspected to be a shocking case of kidnapping, a 57-year-old Salesian priest from Tura has gone missing from the train he was travelling on from New Delhi to Guwahati en route to Tura with his last whereabouts located at Katihar in Bihar on the morning of October 27.

To make matters worse, a message from an unknown number about the death of the priest was forwarded to the authorities of Don Bosco College from Bihar and later his belongings were found dumped in a garbage bin at New Jalpaiguri railway station in West Bengal.

Rev. Fr. Francis Fernandez, who happens to be the Rector of Don Bosco College, Tura, left for New Delhi on October 22. From there he went to Dehradun to meet his nephew and also visited the Doon School before taking the Rajdhani Express from New Delhi for Guwahati on the 26th of this month.

He was due to arrive in Guwahati the next day. While the train reached its destination the priest was nowhere to be found.

Salesians from Don Bosco College, Tura, last received a message from Fr Fernandez that was sent from Katihar train station at 7:54 AM of Thursday informing of his destination.

“He was in a compartment that was filled with local people at Katihar railway station of Bihar. That was the last message we got from him,” informed senior Salesian priest Fr PD Johny of Don Bosco College, Tura.

The compartment B2-28 of Rajdhani Express 12424 was where the Don Bosco Rector was supposed to have been. It was filled with a large group of minority workers from Kisanganj and nearby villages at the time it reached Katihar station.

The Salesian community was completely unaware of the unfolding events until they received a SMS from an unknown number in broken English about the condition of the priest.

The message mentioned that Fr Francis has been hospitalized in Kisanganj, a notorious area for crime, with serious stomach pain and needed money for emergency operation. The message goes on to mention that a passenger collected money but it was too late as his appendix had ruptured leading to his death.

The message further states that the body was taken away for cremation by the passenger and the person sending the SMS. The last message from the sender, who has since gone incommunicado, claims himself to be a villager with no telephone.

Following receipt of the message, the Salesians of Don Bosco immediately alerted the authorities including the Railway Protection Force and the Intelligence Bureau for help with the case.

A frantic search was made at several train stations along the route since the last two days and it was only late Saturday night that police and railway authorities and search teams found the personal belongings of Fr Fernandez in a garbage pit near New Jaipalguri Railway Station in North Bengal. “From the garbage pit police retrieved the identity card of Fr Fernandez, his province directory of Guwahati Don Bosco Province, his flight ticket to New Delhi and a return train ticket to Guwahati, one of his favourite novels he took on his travels and other documents.

The closely knit family of Salesian fathers of Don Bosco are hoping for the best even as they fear for the worst. “We are deeply distressed and are praying for the safe return of Fr Fernandez,” informed Don Bosco College priests from Tura.

The Don Bosco College of Teacher Education, Tura, has put forward two numbers for any information on the whereabouts of the missing priest. The numbers are 09862588757 and 9436730717

– fwd: cm paul



* J. Dey Award *Church protests BJP’s anti-Dalit stance

June 16, 2011 by  
Filed under Bihar, India, Persecution

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Note: The CSF is advised that an award named after murdered journo J. Dey might be misconstrued at this stage & hence is deferring the same, until further notice.

BJP is anti-Christian & Muslim Dalits

Fr. Cosmon Arokiaraj

Fr. Cosmon Arokiaraj

Church people in India have criticized a pro-Hindu party’s objection to extending special reservations for Christians of low caste origin. “It is nothing new to us, communal forces are always against reservation for the dalit Christians,” Father Cosmon Arokiaraj, secretary of the Indian Catholic bishops’ commission for tribal and dalit communities said. Father Arokiaraj was responding to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP, Indian people’s party) that asked President Pratibha Patil not to extend reservation to dalit groups among Christians and Muslims. In a memorandum to the deputy commissioner of Udupi district in Karnataka state, the BJP urged Patil to reject the report of a government commission that favored reservation for these groups.
BJP says extending reservations to Christians and Muslims would affect dalit groups among Buddhist, Hindu and Sikh religions who now enjoy these benefits. Father Arokiaraj says the BJP stand was expected, but the Church would continue its six-decade struggle to get these benefits for dalit Christians. Christian groups want the statutory rights to boost the socioeconomic advancement of their dalit brethren. About 70 percent of Indian Christians are of dalit origin, according to some studies. The Indian constitution provides special seats in legislative houses, jobs and places in educational institutions for Buddhist, Hindu and Sikh dalits. However, Christians and Muslims are denied these rights on the pretext that their religions do not recognize the caste system. Christians argue this violates the constitution which grants equal rights to all citizens.

– ucan

Sangh working on an agenda in Muslim-dominated East Bihar

June 16, 2011 by  
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Sangh working on an agenda in Muslim-dominated East BiharPatna: Since the National Democratic Alliance (BJP+JDU) came to power in the state six years ago, the Sangh Parivar has increased their activities in the Muslim-dominated border districts of East Bihar. They are working on an agenda. They want to demoralize the community. The growing saffron color is resulting in the local police becoming trigger happy, say Muslim community leaders and intellectuals in Araria. “This is a peaceful area. People are poor and simple. In the last six years, Sangh has increased its activities to put the community in inferiority complex. They have an old agenda. They ran a campaign of Bangladeshi infiltrators from 1972-1982. They failed. Now that they are in power in the state, they have renewed their activity. They say Muslims want to make this whole region – from Bangla border through Indo-Nepal border covering some districts of UP towards Kashmir and Pakistan – into Islamistan. In the garb of this false propaganda they want to break the community socially, economically and educationally. For the purpose they can plan even ethnic cleansing,” says Nayyaruzzaman, president, Jamaat-e-Islami Bihar.

Zubair Alam, president, Minority Development Forum, Araria says: “Sangh has increased activities on the issue of AMU centre. People are very peaceful here. Bu the outsiders want to disturb the communal harmony.” Asrar Ahmed, Urdu journalist attached with Urdu daily Qaumi Tanzeem says: “The NDA says they are working for welfare of the minorities, but on the ground they are doing nothing. He says BJP is dominating JDU in government. BJP is working on its agenda.” “The Sangh wants to demoralize the Muslim community who are in good number here though they are very poor in every aspect,” says Qamar Masood, Principal (Retd), Azad Academy, Araria. Asked why state government has not taken action against any police officer involved in Forbesganj firing, Masood said: “Maybe Nitish has not yet come out of victory mood. It seems the second massive victory has got into his head. He is taking things for granted. He thinks people will come to him whatever he does.”

– Mumtaz Alam Falahi