Assault on priest equals Christian religious freedom infringement: Syro-Malabar Church

In a press release issued by the Syro-Malabar Public Affairs Commission, the Church expressed its unequivocal condemnation of the attack, emphasizing the imperative of bringing both the perpetrators and the masterminds behind the assault to justice.

| Updated: 26 February, 2024 1:31 pm IST
'Attack on the priest is an assault over religious freedom of Christians' : Syro Malabar Church

KOTTAYAM: The Syro-Malabar Church has vehemently denounced the assault on a priest in Poonjar, Kottayam district, on February 23rd, labeling it as an egregious affront to the religious freedom of Christians and a blatant violation of the right to worship.

In a press release issued by the Syro-Malabar Public Affairs Commission, the Church expressed its unequivocal condemnation of the attack, emphasizing the imperative of bringing both the perpetrators and the masterminds behind the assault to justice.

ALSO READ: Communal tensions rise in Kerala after priest hit by car; Christian groups protest

The Commission underscored the disturbing trend of such attacks occurring with alarming frequency in Meenachil Taluk and urged law enforcement agencies to heighten vigilance and take decisive action. Dismissing the notion that these incidents are mere manifestations of antisocial or drug-related activities, the Commission voiced suspicions of a deliberate agenda to stoke communal tensions in the region.

Consequently, it emphasized the crucial necessity of holding both the youths directly involved in the attack and those orchestrating it behind the scenes accountable before the law.

ALSO READ: Haldwani riots: Igniting communal tensions or seeking justice?

Meanwhile, in connection with the incident, twenty-seven higher secondary school students, including 10 minors, have been apprehended and charged with attempted murder. Of these, 17 students have been remanded, while the 10 minors have been placed in care homes.

The altercation unfolded on Friday afternoon when a group of boys from Government HSS, Erattupetta, descended upon the church grounds in eight cars following the completion of their model exams, engaging in reckless racing. Their raucous behaviour disrupted church activities, prompting Fr Joseph Attuchalil to intervene and request their departure.

Despite his entreaties, the boys persisted, prompting Fr Attuchalil to move to close the gate. It was then that tragedy struck, with one vehicle striking his hand and another knocking him to the ground at high speed. Fr Attuchalil was subsequently rushed to a private hospital for treatment and is reported to be in stable condition.

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