Thursday, September 11, 2008

"I Thought I Might Not Even Get a Burial": Fr. Digal

Priest Recounts Close Brush With Death In Orissa

Father Bernard Digal, one of three Catholic priests who escaped death during anti-Christian violence in Orissa state, wondered if he would even get a burial after being beaten and left to die.

UCA News reports:
Father Digal, treasurer of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar archdiocese, was visiting Sankarakhole parish when the violence began on Aug. 24. He narrated his close brush with death to UCA News.

On Aug. 23, the priest and his driver Sisir Pradhan left the archdiocesan headquarters in the state capital of Bhubaneswar, 1,745 kilometers southeast of New Delhi. They reached Sankarakhole at around 10:30 p.m.

"We had dinner. As we were preparing to go to bed after a tiring day, we received a call" saying Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati, a Hindu leader based in the state's Kandhamal district, was shot dead. "I could not believe it. We went to bed," he recalled.

He recounted that he woke up the next morning hearing anti-Christian slogans and people "yelling outside," saying they wanted to kill missioners.

Father Alexander Chandy, the parish's 65-year-old pastor, Pradhan and Father Digal remained inside the church compound the whole day and moved to a forested area at night.

The situation "got worse" on Aug. 24, Father Digal continued. "We kept getting information on attacks and killings in villages. We got stuck in the forest and survived on dry food."

Father Chandy was sick and could not walk far. To provide him better shelter, the younger priest and his driver went to the house of another priest's brother in the village. They wanted to use his motorcycle to go to a safer place.

Father Digal said they saw the entire house, including the motorcycle, on fire. The two of them then went to see the priest's sister in the village. She urged them to go to a safer place as people had threatened to destroy her house.

The two went to nearby Dudukangia village, where 15 Christian families lived. But the Christians refused them shelter, saying they too had received similar threats.

By then, night had fallen. Since returning to their hiding place in the forest was risky, the two decided to sleep in the village church that had already been torched. "It had only walls standing. We thought the mob would not come, and we were tired of walking all day. Our legs were swollen."

At 11:30 p.m., however, people came to the demolished church. "Seeing the mob, we ran," shared Father Digal. "Pradhan ran fast, but I was caught. The mob shouted to each other to kill me. I pleaded for my life, but they ignored me."

The mob then hit him with crowbars and sticks. "The beatings came like heavy rain. They stripped me naked and asked for mobile phones," the priest recalled.

He said he managed to run some distance but was caught. "I fell to the ground and they continued hammering me. Soon I saw blood flowing from my head and lost consciousness. They thought I was dead and left me."

In his semi-conscious state, the priest said he thought he heard wolf cries and feared the animals would feed on him. "I thought I might not even get a burial. I prayed to the Lord."

Later, two villagers came. By then, the priest's body had become numb because of the wet ground and a cold night breeze.

The villagers brought the church's broken door and helped him lie on it. They also brought him some water. "I was feeling a bit better," he said, "and the villagers left me alone."

His driver came looking for him in the morning, and later informed the police. Along with a few villagers, the police took Father Digal to a public health center in the village and later moved him to the district hospital.

After much pressure, the state administration brought Father Digal to a better hospital in Bhubaneswar. "There is no place left in my body where I was not beaten," said the priest, who is now receiving treatment in a hospital in Mumbai, western India.


Anonymous said...

take heart Indian Christians, the anthropological error of the Hindu fanatics is located in the Gospel:

Anonymous said...

The Christian community's silent and nonviolent protest against the Killing of Christians by the marauding Bajrang Dal mobs, has been critized and punitive measures have been taken by some authorities for joining the protest. In Raigad district of Maharashtra notices have been served to schools to take them to task for joining the protest closure of all Catholic schools in Mumbai, Thane and Raigad for a day! A BEST condutor is caught wearing a derogatory remark in Hindi on his collection bag- "the conversion by Christian 'padri's will hasten the end of Hinduism." Is the cancer spreading in the absence of any collective will of the governments in bringing the criminals to book? How can killing and burning live people in front of so many witnesses not be a crime? Do they have immunity from the law of the land by being the majority community? If those committing crimes in Orissa have not been brought to book so far, how can we expect to check this hate campaign from spreading across the country? Do we need a public agitation on the lines of Mahatma's Satyagraha to remind the governments to make the Christian presence felt in India?

Anonymous said...

Its been 2000 years ... millions of Christians and Jews have been persecuted in God's/Jesus' name.

The Christians seem doomed because their God has only given them only one important commandment:
"Love one another as I have loved you"

They can do nothing but love.

But strangely, after these 2 millennia, paradoxical as it may seem, only Love will conquer all.

Sparkzzzzz said...

We need to get this information organized and published to the masses. Do we have any strategy in place to do this? Blogging individually will not help. I am willing to mobilize people from Andhra Pradesh to help. Is there something we can do to get the government's attention?

The Philips said...

The biggest culprits are hindus living abroad. They finance these terrorist. We should have campaign in USA

The Philips said...

The main culprits financing these terrorists are Hindus in USA. They send money to these organization. The hate based group like VHP has shakas USA. Hindus play race card in USA but happily side with these fanatics.

Chicago Revival said...

John 16:1-4

“These things I have spoken to you, that you should not be made to stumble. They will put you out of the synagogues [today it might be from churches]; yes, the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service. And these things they will do to you because they have not known the Father nor Me. But these things I have told you, that when the time comes, you may remember that I told you of them."

Anonymous said...

Forgive them for they know not what they are doing... Love thy enemy....... Only this will give peace- and that what Jesus said....

Console -- what you sow is what you reap... you sow hatred and misery and you know what you reap..

EC Gefroh said...

Just wondering why you stopped posting updates. I hope everything is alright.
I am praying for the persecuted Christians/Church worldwide.

Chicago Revival said...

History also says that the first conversion had begun in 1850s here. One missionary, Rev Goadby, had rescued thousands of young men and girls kept as Meria (for sacrifice) and brought them to an orphanage. The youth who were saved from being sacrificed embraced Christianity. Again during the great famine of 1866 all outcastes were denied food in the kitchens that were run for public. They became Christians. And in 1914 the first Middle English School was set up in G Udaigiri by OJ Millman.

joshuakumaresan said...

What these(Sangh parivar activists) so called patriotic indians( who claim all indians as hindus)did for the improvement of indians? Did they build any hospitals, orphangaes or touched and cleaned lepers like christians? Did they build any schools to eradicate uneducaton and poverty like christians? Instead of violence, let them attract and retain their fellow tribals in hinduism and stop conversion by doing the above said things like christians. Atleast then we can accept there is something in Hinduism other than vandalism.
By a christian converted from Hinduism definitely not by force.

Anonymous said...

The thousands of training camps run of sangh parivar especially rss and bajrang dal across India not only brainwash hindu youths with anti-minority propaganda but also train hindu youths with arms training all this has been reported by the indian news media. The hindu youths who have been trained in the terror training camps of rss,bajrangdal are responsible for the attacks on Muslims, Christians, Sikhs and other minorities.

Can the Government of India prove its secular and democratic credentials by dismantling or destroying the terror training camps run by rss,bajrang dal ?

Can the United Nations, American government, European union, International/National human rights organizations prove their credentials for protecting minorities and human rights by pressurising the Indian govt. to dismantle or destroy the terror training camps run by rss, bajrang dal ?

The Indian law enforcement agencies including the police force have become puppets of sangh parivar this has been proven in the pogroms against minorities in various parts of India where the law enforcement agencies colluded with sangh parivar.

If Government of India is serious about preventing the pogroms against minorities from spreading across India then it should dismantle or destroy the terror training camps run by rss,bajrangdal and reserve 20% jobs in Indian law enforcement agencies, Indian police force, Indian armed forces, Indian judiciary, Indian IAS/IPS, Indian intelligence agencies for minorities.

Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs are the four pillars of the Indian nation. The sangh parivar which follows an agenda which is a mixture of Brahminical, nazi, fascism code is a threat to the fours pillars of the Indian nation. If any one pillar crumbles the entire Indian nation will crumble.