Thursday, December 24, 2009

Church forgives politician who attacked priest

A politician, who along with his bodyguards severely beat up a priest, has surrendered to police.

Church authorities, on their part, say they have forgiven Tarlok Singh Chackwalia, a Congress party member.

"We wanted the police to arrest him as a signal to people that one cannot get away with criminal activities," diocesan spokesperson Father Peter Kavumpuram told UCA News on Dec. 23.

The victim, Father Lawrence Chittuparambil, who is still in a hospital after the attack, said he has also forgiven his assailants.

The priest, director of Sacred Heart Convent School at Takarpura in the Punjabi border town of Patti, said the incident happened on Dec. 19 when Chackwalia came to the school with two armed guards to drop off his granddaughter, a student.

Father Chittuparambil said after he asked the men to disarm in line with school rules the bodyguards slapped him, telling him not to talk to their boss like that.

"I ran to close the gate but the three caught me and pushed me against a wall and hit me with their gun butts," he told UCA News.

The assailants stopped only after principal Sister Jaya and another nun came to the priest's assistance.

Chackwalia and the other assailants left the grounds, and the bodyguards were arrested later that day.

Chackwalia, who had unsuccessfully contested the Punjab legislative assembly a few years ago as a Congress party candidate, turned himself in on Dec. 22 after the diocese closed all its 150 schools in Punjab and Haryana states in protest.

The diocese had also threatened to launch a general strike across Punjab if the administration failed to arrest the politician.

Some 1,500 people from various religions joined a rally the diocese organized on Dec. 19 at Patti, blocking all entries to the town.

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