New Delhi: A group of people, allegedly Hindu activists, attacked a party of Christians including priests and nuns on Majuli island in Jorhat district in Assam on January 24, church officials said today.
Demanding strong action against the attackers, the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India (CBCI) said: "They (the attackers) were from a radical Hindu group, led by a seer."
"We are concerned about the development in the area. The government should take strong action against the attackers," CBCI spokesman Rev Babu Joseph said.
According to Father William Horo, the media director of Dibrugarh diocese in Assam, a party of Christians, numbering around 500, were returning from Jengraimukh on January 24 after attending the consecration of a member of the Mising community, Hemanto Pegu as a priest of the Catholic Church.
As they reached Kamalabari Charali in Majuli subdivision, they were threatened and assaulted by a group of people, who accused them of converting tribals and threatened to cut them "into pieces."
Before threatening the group, "some local residents including women stopped the vehicles and asked them the reason for their coming to the island," Horo said.
"Father Caesar Henry, the principal of St. Antony's High School, Mariani and Father G P Amalraj, the principal of St. Xavier's High School were pulled out from their vehicle and manhandled at the Kamalabari petrol pump. They (the group) kicked them and punched them in their stomach," he added.
He alleged that the members of the group were shouting: "They are missionaries, beat them and kill them" and using abusive language against Christians.
The Christians were warned not to come to Majuli again, Horo said. He clarified that the Christians were not on a mission to convert tribals.
"They were using the opportunity, when the first Mising priest was getting ordained, to make their first ever visit to the world-famous Majuli island," he said.