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Orissa: priest attacked in anti-Christian riots has died

 Fr Joseph Kalathil, Vicar General for the Archdiocese of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar hs sent this report.

Fr Bernard Digal, Treasurer of the Archdiocese, residing at Archbishop's House, 9/16 Satyanagar, Bhubaneswar, had been to Sankharakhol under Tikaballi P.S., Kandhamal district., on 23 August 2008 for official work. While he was camping at Sankharakhole, communal violence broke out and his vehicle bearing Reg. No. ORO-2- Q-6838 was set on fire. Fearing further violence and attack he took shelter in the jungle with his driver Mr Sisiro Pradhan, S/o Late Mr. Lokhono Pradhan. Looking for a safe place they walked through jungle and reached Dudukangia village near Kottimaha under Tikaballi PS. There a violent mob with latis ironbars and other sharp weapons attacked Fr Bernard, Mr Sisiro Pradhan and Mr Dondapani Mallick who joined them. Mr Sisiro Pradhan and Mr Dondapani Mallick ran away and took shelter in the jungle. Some miscreants attacked and assaulted Fr Bernard with , iron bars, sharp weapons etc. inflicting severe injuries on the head and other parts of the body. They left him on the spot totally naked and thinking that he was dead. However he regained consciousness but unable to move and frightened in the deserted place.

At about 6.30 in the morning Mr Pradhan and some of the villagers spotted Fr Bernard and gave some water to drink. With the help of the Gramo Rokhi of the village Mr Pradhan informed the police at Tikaballi by Phone. After one hour the Inspector of Police arrived on the spot with five constables. Seeing the serious condition of Fr.Bernard Inspector of Police drove Fr Bernard to the health centre at Tikaballi in the police jeep. After some primary treatment the doctor on duty referred the case to the District Headquarter Hospital at Phulbani and shifted Fr. Bernard to Phulbani in the hospital Ambulance. After a day's treatment the Doctors at Phulbani referred the case to Cuttack Medical College. Fr Bernard was brought to Bhubaneswar and admitted in Kalinga Hospital, Bhubaneswar. After three days of treatment in Kalinga Hospital he was shifted to Holy Spirit Hospital in Mumbai by flight as his condition continued to be very serious.

In Holy Spirit Hospital his condition slowly and steadily improved. Finally he was discharged from the Hospital. He further underwent Physiotherapy in Mumbai and felt better.

Fr. Bernard went to Chennai to meet a friend of him who was sick and hospitalized in Chennai. In Chennai he felt exhausted and sick and so got himself admitted to St.Thomas Hospital. There his condition became serious in spite of the care and treatment by a team of well known doctors. Finally he succumbed to death on 28 October at 8.50pm.

A SHORT BIOGRAPHY OF FR BERNARD DIGAL

Fr Bernard Digal was born on 27 January 1962 in Tiangia village, Raikia PS, Kandhamal district., Orissa, as the fourth child of late Mahajan and late Lucia Digal. He has a brother and two sisters. He attended school in Tiangia, Mondasoro and Raikia and did his Intermediate in Phulbani College. He continued his higher studies in Calcutta and was ordained a Priest on 29 May 1992 for the Archdiocese of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar. He served the Archdiocese in various capacities such as Assistant Parish Priest, Parish Priest, Spiritual Director to the Seminarians, Vocation Director, Treasurer of the Archdiocese etc. He was committed to his responsibilities, was friendly, sociable, helpful outgoing, generous and very human. His untimely and sad death is a great loss to the Archdiocese and the people.

Fr.Joseph Kalathil
Vicar General
Archbishop's House
Satyanagar, Bhubaneswar.