Assault On 'Baptist' Church

News article in the Afternoon Despatch & Courier, Bombay, 9th. August 2001. Report by Hubert Vaz. Re-Edited.

All Catholic schools in the Mumbai Archdiocese will remain closed on Monday (August 13) as a sign of protest against the brutal assault on Fr. Oscar Mendonca at the rectory of the St. John the Baptist Church in Thane last Monday.

RSS activists had stormed into the church and beat up Fr. Oscar to express their ire at the killing of two RSS activists in the inter-ethnic fighting in the Tripura province, allegedly at the hands of the Baptist and Presbyterian churches. The mob had broken the strong iron gates of the church compound and struck Fr. Oscar with a flower pot. He has been shifted to the Holy Family Hospital in Bandra for treatment.

VHP, Bajrang Dal Activists Attack Priest

Asian Age, Bombay edition, 8th August 2001.

Bombay, Aug. 7: A hundred and fifty strong mob of VHP and Bajrang Dal activists attacked a priest in Thane on Monday night. Fr. Oscar Mendonca of the St. John the Baptist church was atacked inside the church premises.

Police sources said the mob bent the steel gate leading to the church, chased the priest into his room, then dragged him out and beat him mercilessly.

The mob reportedly even tore the priest's bible and broke windows panes in the church premises, which also houses a school.

The priest sustained four stitches above his eye and bruises on his body. Three leaders, namely VHP chief, Dr. Sudhir Ranade, Bajrang Dal Thane city chief Anil More and Bharatiya Janata party member Sharad Birajdar, along with fifteen others were arrested by the Thane city police.

The All India Christian Council has strongly condemned the attack. Speaking to the Asian Age, AICC member, Abraham Mathai said, "Though the three leaders and the others were arrested, light and bailable charges were registered against them."

According to Mathai, he made sure that the accused were booked under Section 295 (A) of the Indian Penal Code, which deals with creating sectarian strife and 153 (A) which deals with provocative speeches leading to violence. The three leaders have been remanded to police custody while the fifteen others have been remanded to judicial custody for three days.

"Baptist Church Must Apologise!"

News article in the Afternoon Despatch & Courier, Bombay, 9th August 2001. Report by Hubert Vaz. Re-Edited.

The Bajrang Dal (Army of the god Hanuman) state president, Shankar Gaikar, when contacted for his reaction to the incident that has drawn widespread condemnation, said there was no question of the Bajrang Dal apologising for the assault. "Instead, the Baptist Church must apologise to us for associating with their counterparts in the Orissa province, and who have been implicated by its provincial government in the abduction and slaying of two RSS activists two years ago," he said.

Gaikar also condemned the police and the local provincial government for training their guns on the Bajrang Dal for the assault, saying that there seems to be a conspiracy against the Bajrang Dal which has been agitating only to uphold Hindu rights. He also defended the activists involved in the assault, saying they had only approached Fr. Oscar to ask him to sever ties with the Baptist Church in Orissa. However, since the priest spoke rudely to them, they had to react violently, he said.

Reaction: Not Too Very Bright

©Lucio Mascarenhas.

About a year ago, a Protestant Australian missionary was murdered along with his young sons, in the Orissa province, by a front organisation of the Sangh Parivar, an act that drew a storm of condemnation from all over India and the world for its perpetrators. The RSS hastily disowned the guilty organisation, as it did when another of its front orgs and its members had murdered Gandhi. However, they have a chip on the shoulder over the condemnation that they drew for the crime they committed in Orissa. Orissa is on their brains. So much so, that they deliberately or otherwise confuse it with yet another and distinctly different province, Tripura.

Orissa is far away from, nor contiguous with, the eastern province of Tripura.

Tripura, the former kingdom of Chackla Roshangabad became involved in the Manipur-Burma War that saw the Burmese overrun the kingdoms of Manipur and Assam. In alarm, the king threw in his lot with the English in Bengal, to his immediate west, and became a vassal. Tripura went on to help the English conquer the Burmese Empire, adding Assam and Burma to the English Empire. However, there was a price to be paid for this - the kings of Tripura came to be heavily dependent on the people of Bengal, and soon they came to dominate the administration.

The province of Tripura became a princely state in the English Raj, and acceded to the Indian Union with independence. Its native people are a mix of many ethnic groups speaking various languages, though a 'lingua franca' called Kok-Borok exists. The king had come to depend on the more advanced people of neighbouring Bengal, and thus many Bengalis came to settle in the land. However, it was the partition of India that, by carving out Pakistan for the Muslims and with east Bengal made a part of the new artificial country of Pakistan, caused a rush of Bengali Hindu refugees to come and settle in Tripura, to the east of East Bengal or East Pakistan, as it was then known. As a result of this, the Bengalis became the majority. Since then, the natives have been simmering.

In the last decade or so, as the natives of the north-eastern provinces began to take up arms, so also did the Tripurans take up arms. Their first demand was and is that the Bengalis should be re-settled in the West Bengal province of the Indian Union, and that their majority in their native land be restored. More radical factions seek secession as an independent state.

This native campaign has been led by the Hindus. Native Hindus, just as in Assam, the native Hindu Assamese have started a campaign for the expulsion of the Bengali settlers there.

A few years back, one of the high-ranking leaders, Jogendra Debbarma, converted to the Protestant Baptist sect, changing his name to Joshua Debbarma. As a result there was a fall-out, and Debbarma defected to the opposite faction. Apparently, besides fighting against Bengali colonisation, he also began to persuade, one way or another, the native Tripurans to join him in the Baptist sect.

During this time, the RSS too had begun its activities in Tripura, siding with the colonists. So it happened that a conflict between the RSS and the natives was bound to break out. This actually happened, and some RSS activists were captured and carried off a couple of years ago, into the rebel dominated forests. Their remains were found a few months back, in 2001, some two years later.

Whatever be the merits or demerits of Mr. Debbarma's campaign, the Baptists as a group are certainly not involved in it. No one has proved that there is institutional support, one way or the other, for Mr. Debbarma, in the Baptist sect.

Again, it is obvious enough, except to the most dense dolts, that there is no logical connection between the Baptist sect and any church building that bears the name of 'St. John the Baptist,' as does the one in Thane, in which Oscar Mendonca was assaulted.

Unfortunately enough for India, such improbable dolts do exist, and, shamelessly triumphant about it, have, in matter of fact, so come to dominate India, that, at this moment, are ruling at the federal level!

Deliberate Attack

However, what the news articles fail to mention, is that the mob attack occured as a result of a protest gathering of the Sangh Parivar in the vicinity of the church, in which provocative speeches were made against the 'Baptist' church for its alleged involvement in the execution of their agents in Tripura / Orissa! The location of the meeting was deliberate and with the usual intention of later indulging in intimidatory violence against the church. The police and civic administrations turned a deliberate blind eye towards this and did not even act to prevent the gathering from converging on the church and vandalising it. This happened because of the widespread rot in Indian society, with the Hindus being generally brainwashed against Christians and Muslims, and overtly or covertly entertaining hostility or apathy towards them. This cancer has infilterated all sections of the state - including the civic administrations and the police, etc. All actions against such mischief are, if at all, perfunctory and a mere formality, an eyewash!
©Lucio Mascarenhas.
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