“Catholic bishops decry attacks on African nationals in Delhi” – crocodiles tears?

Isaac Gomes from Kolkata comments on "Catholic bishops decry attacks on African nationals in Delhi" – courtesy Matters India

Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas




New Delhi: The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) Sunday condemned recent attacks on African nationals in the national capital.

“It is so painful to hear that the attackers have not spared even a four-month-old baby,” said a press note from CBCI secretary general Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas.

The baby was among seven African nationals allegedly attacked on May 26 by a group of ten men in a by-lane of Chhatarpur, a suburb in southern Delhi.

The victims said the attackers hurled racial slurs at them and beat them up with iron rods, sticks, bricks and cricket bats.

The incident took place a week after a man from Congo was beaten to death in Vasant Kunj, another locality in south Delhi.

On Sunday, police arrested five people in connection with the May 26 incident. Police claimed the attacks were “isolated incidents” not racist in nature. Two of those attacked have alleged they were beaten with cricket bats.

The arrests happened after Home Minister Rajnath Singh spoke to the Commissioner of Police, Delhi. Earlier in the day, Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj spoke to the Home Minister, and Delhi Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung, about the attacks and said she was assured that the culprits would soon be arrested. Apart from the arrests, 5 others have been detained.

Bishop Mascarenhas appealed fellow citizens to uphold Indian traditional values of revering guests as divine. “The African nationals and for that matter nationals of any country are our esteemed guests. Treat them as per our culture,” the Church official said.

The prelate also expressed concern over the emergence of “a disturbing trend” of people taking law into their hands. “Incidents related to communalism and racism are on the increase. Perhaps some statements made by politicians, bureaucrats and group leaders are encouraging people in this direction,” he added.

The attacks on Africans in India have exposed another ugly face of the caste system, says Noah Seelam, an Indian journalist.

In the first case on Thursday, a scuffle reportedly broke out between Leuchy, a Nigerian, and some Indians. However, Leuchy claimed the group attacked him and his friend without any reason. “After that, they started targeting other African nationals in the locality… it seemed like a pre-planned attack,” said Jason, another Nigerian.

The second alleged attack was on Kenneth Igbinosa, his wife Kate and the couple’s son, said police. According to Igbinosa, the attackers hit his car with cricket bats and sticks. He said he managed to drive his car out of the lane.

The targets of the third attack were Ugandan national Vikky and her brother Pierre. Cameroon nationals Shamira and her friend, who tried to help the duo, said they had to face the wrath of the attackers as well. Shamira claimed the attackers were shouting “go back to Africa.”

Three cases have been registered at Mehrauli police station and police are investigating the matter, said DCP (south) Ishwar Singh. “We are trying to identify the attackers and they will be arrested soon,” he said.


IGCBCI Secretary General Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas is quite right in taking up the issue of attack on African students right in the heart of New Delhi.  This indeed a is a big shame for India.  One of the main reasons is of course the conflict of the Delhi Police : which master to listen to – BJP-ruled centre or the AAP-led Kejriwal ministry.
Rightfully law and order should be a state subject and till this matter is settled once and for all, the shuffling of responsibility will be played like a ping-pong game between the Centre and the Delhi Government which cannot be blamed for law and order problems if it does not have full powers over the police.

The CBCI Secretary General was pretty athletic in taking up the case of the African students. But why was the same speed not shown in  decrying the attack on the Bishop's own brother in Jesus Christ, the Bishop Prasad Gallela of Andhra Pradesh?  More than a month has  gone by.  Yet the Indian Church, headed by Cardinal Cleemis has been maintaining a stony silence on the attack on its own Bishop!  Why this ostrich-like deaf and dumb attitude?  Is it because its own high priests are involved in the kidnap and attack on the Bishop? The high priests who were the force behind working up mob frenzy to crucify Jesus Christ? Does the Indian Church authorities feel that if it gives publicity to the matter, more skeletons will come out of the  cupboards or what the church calls "washing dirty linen in public"?

If it thinks that it can sweep matters under the carpet, as it does in cases of all probing matters, then it will be living in a fools paradise.  A day might come when more Bishops and Cardinals will face the fate of Bishop Gallela.  In this context we must remember Jesus' warning Against Hypocrisy.

In Mathew 23 (1-7) Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: "The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.

“Everything they do is done for people to see: They make their phylacteries[a] wide and the tassels on their garments long; they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues;  they love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and to be called ‘Rabbi’ by others.

So our church authorities, headed by Cardinal Cleemis of CBCI, MUST pay heed to the above words of Jesus and stop being hypocrites themselves.  Otherwise they will have to pay a heavy price for not seeing the writing on the wall.

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