The Digal’s and other martyrs of village Tiangia

March 2, 2018 by  
Filed under India, newsletter-india

Kandhamal, March 2, 2018: Father Bernard Digal, a priest of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar, was the most senior priest or pastor killed in the violence of Kandhamal in 2008.

A sensitive pro people Pastor who remembered his roots in the poorest of the poor in the remote village of Tiangia of Kandhamal district, Odisha, Fr Bernard rose to be the Treasurer of the Cuttack- Bhubaneswar Archdiocese of the Catholic Church of Odisha.

He was in many ways the main connection between the church leadership and the common people. His example led at least seven young men of his village to become priests involved in social and development work. With Archbishop Raphael Cheenath, then head of the church, he rallied the people when phase one of the anti-Christian began on Christmas Eve of 2007.

When violence broke out in August 2008, Bernard thought he would be with his people in their villages. After his work, as he tried to leave, he was surrounded and beaten to a pulp. They left him for dead. But he had breath left.

Eventually, he was taken to a hospital. He seemed to regain some health, but all of a sudden he succumbed to the deep injuries he had sustained. His funeral was the most poignant scene.

But the government does not list him among the dead of the 2008 violence. There are over 70 others who were killed but the government refused to take their death into account, giving compensation to the families of but some of the more glaring murders.

The rest were ignored entirely. Minimising the count of the dead in any targeted violence seems important to all regimes, whichever the political party in power. It, of course, saves some more money by way of compensation not paid. But it seems the government and rulers feel they are somehow less responsible for inaction. The culprits are the happiest for they are safe from punishment.

Fr Bernard Digal’s surviving brother, Benedict Digal, photographed in his modest house, is struggling for the government’s recognition of the priest’s murder, or rather, lynching. Tiangia counts seven men in the mass murders if 2008. The families have built a simple memorial to the martyrs. Lest we forget.

– matters india

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One Response to “The Digal’s and other martyrs of village Tiangia”
  1. Sr. Mabilia says:

    The Catholics who died in Khandamal are real martyres and whether the Govt. recognises them or not, they are with God. May they pray for the country which is being threatened by evil forces and govts. I have met Fr. Digal and I am aware of others who worked in Khandamal. In 2006 I had visited Khandamal and had witnessed the faith of the people!
    Sr. Mabilia

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