Friday, July 31, 2009

Murdered Catholic Priest Body Found By Roadside

A Catholic priest was found murdered in a remote place by the side of a road in a village near Mangalore in southern Indian state of Karnataka on Thursday 30 July.

A Christian advocacy group is calling upon Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to investigate the "clear case of murder".

Father James Mukalel, 39, priests of Belthangady diocese in Karnataka, met with tragic death when he was returning to his parish, after attending a funeral of one of his earlier parishioners in Thottathady village, Daiji World local online news reported.

According to Fr Thomas Kannankal, the diocesan social work director, the death of the priest appears to be a clear case of murder, as his body was found to be lying away from the motor bike which he was riding, and there were no clothes on his body.

He added that the body did not bear any injury marks but there were telltale signs that point to the fact that he was suffocated to death by someone.

Father James was originally from the diocese of Tellichery and had opted to work in Belthangady diocese. Belthangady is a division within Dakshina Kannada, a western coastal district of Karnataka facing Arabian Sea and has Mangalore city as its headquarters and the biggest city in the region.

Father Jose Valiaparambil, the vicar general of the diocese, said that the entire diocese is shocked to learn about this gory incident that has occurred at a time when the Syro-Malabar diocese is preparing for its mission congress from 3 August.

Father Thomas told UCA News, that the priest serves in Kutrapady parish and had gone to Thottathady parish to attend a funeral. After the funeral, he visited some homes and had his dinner in a convent in the parish. He started back in his motor bike at around 9 p.m. on Wednesday.

Some parishioners noticed his naked body lying by the roadside, at around 7 a.m. on Thursday, 30 July morning.

Belthangady diocese in Dakshina Kannada had reported some violence against Christians in the past year and police are enquiring into them, the priest told UCA news.

Dakshina Kannada was in the news last year when the Bajrang Dal in Karnataka’s Mangalore state attacked over 30 prayer halls in September 2008. 53 Christians were injured in the Dakshina Kannada district and parts of Udupi district.

Bangalore-based Christian advocacy group Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) said Karnataka ruled by the Hindu nationalist party, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) recorded the second most number of attacks against Christians in 2008, it is "second to Orissa where many have lost their lives and homes."

"Karnataka recorded at least 112 anti-Christian attacks across 29 districts in 2008,” and at least 10 more such incidents have been reported this year," Dr. Sajan George, President of GCIC told Compass Direct News earlier.

GCIC has strongly condemned the murder, and is calling upon the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to investigate the case.

“We are shocked and dismayed in the brutal murder of Fr. James Mukalel . This is the 33rd incident of attacks against Christians in Karnataka in the year 2009."

"GCIC urges the Central Bureau of Investigation to institute a thorough investigation of the murder of Catholic Priest James Mukalel and all other attacks of Christians in Karnataka,” a statement on Thursday stated.

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