The Catholic Bishops of India have urged the National Commission for Minorities to demand an official investigation into the the murder of a Catholic priest on Monday 12 September in the diocese of Simdega, Jharkhand north east India. Reportedly Fr Ignatius Bara, aged 48, was trying to prevent imminent clashes between tribal villagers and Hindu fundamentalists in an area known for ethnic conflict. The priest, who was headmaster at Banabira School in Simdega, died of stab wounds inflicted by unidentified person or persons. In a statement issued yesterday, the Bishops said: "The Catholic Bishops' Conference of India firmly condemns the murder of Fr Ignatius and calls for an immediate investigation to identify those responsible". Local sources say the priest was attempting to mediate in a dispute. Adivasi Adhikar Rashka Manch local Tribal association! had organised a public meeting in Simdega to discuss elections and the political representation of Tribals. The participants were attacked by militants of Shanti Sena Hindu fundamentalist group to terrorise them and stop them from claiming their rights. F. Ignatius intervened to calm the dispute and defended the demonstrators. Later on in the day he was attacked by men on motorcycles, according to eyewitnesses members of the Shanti Sena group. The murder has increased tension in the area. The funeral was held on Tuesday. Recently in Assam state, also in the north east India, another Catholic priest Fr Matthrew Nellickal vicar general of Tezpur diocese was murdered. Source: Fides
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