Bishop hospitalized after attack by parishioners

By Arul Gnanapragasam |

Bishop Jerome Dhas Varuvel of Kuzhithurai

Chennai:  A Catholic bishop was reportedly hospitalized in Tamil Nadu, southern India, after a group of Catholics attacked him over a land dispute.

Police in Marthandam in Kanniyakumari district have registered a case against 58 people for attacking Bishop Jerome Dhas Varuvel of Kuzhithurai and a security guard, Tamil newspaper the Daily Thanti reported on March 11.

The attack took place the previous day at the bishop’s residence in Unnamalaikadai near Marthandam some 45 km southeast of Thiruvananthapuram, the Kerala state capital, which is the nearest major city.

The incident reportedly was the fallout of a land dispute between two parishes of Kuzhithurai parish, which was created on December 22, 2014.

Although the diocese tried several times to solve the issue, it could not succeed as the matter was complicated, the newspaper reported.

On March 8, some parishioners of St. Antony’s Church marched to the Bishop’s House and reportedly threatened some priests there.

Two days later, parishioners of St. Joseph’s Church gathered at the porch of the Bishop’s House in the afternoon when Bishop Varuvel arrived there in a car.

The 67-year-old Salesian prelate came out of the car after the agitating parishioners stopped it. The crowd surrounded him and demanded immediate solution of the dispute.

As the discussion was going on, some people suddenly started attacking the bishop and pulled his cassock. The security guard, who tried to protect the prelate, was attacked with a rod.

The attackers ran away as the police arrived at the scene. Bishop Varuvel and the guard named Manoharan were admitted to a private hospital in Marthandam.

The police registered the case against 58 people, including some women, on the complaint of the security guard.


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