India: priests abducted, released

 There have been a couple of attacks on Catholic priests in India in the last few days. Father Tony Herbert CSA writes: On 3 July, five armed persons entered the compound of Dalit Vikas Centre, Patra, Hazaribag at gunpoint, made the cook call the priests and proceeded to take Fathers Primus Kerketta and Basil Lakra with them into the night. After a few kilometres through the fields, jungles, they sent Fr Primus back with a demand for Rs. 10 Lakhs to be given by the next day in return for the life of Fr Basil. The next day village people from the immediate village and other Dalit communities gathered in vigil at Patra. It was agreed that the ranson demand should not be met, parties went out in search of possible holding locations. The kidnappers made contact through Fr Basil's cellphone, demanding speedy payment. The negotiators drew out the discussions as long as possible. The kidnappers' demands radically reduced towards evening, the villagers eventually put together a small sum, negotiated the place of release and went and picked up Fr. Basil on fourth night. He was in good spirits and not injured in anyway. It was a case of kidnapping for money, probably not related to naxalite groups and definitely without any communal dimension. Fr Hector D' Souza SJ reports that a Jesuit house at Phulbani at Kandhamal in Orissa was attacked yesterday afternoon. There were no human casualties. He writes: "Our men from B'neswar are trying their best to reach there but unable to as the roads are blocked. Keep Orissa mission in your prayers."

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