A church being vandalised in northeastern India was “a shock”, according to a local archbishop who said Christians usually got along well with non-Christians in the locality. Source: Crux.
Police arrested two men suspected of damaging a crucifix and statue of Mary last week in St Thomas Catholic Church in the village of Chapatoli in the state of Assam.
The state, located in the Himalaya region bordering Bhutan, is 61 percent Hindu with a large minority of Muslims, who make up over a third of the population. Christians make up only 3.7 percent, or around 1.2 million people.
“The present speculation is that it was done by some disgruntled youth just to create a sensation,” Archbishop Thomas Menamparampil told Crux.
Archbishop Menamparampil is the emeritus Archbishop of Guwahati. The attack took place in the Diocese of Dibrugarh, which is in the Guwahati ecclesiastical province.
“Some connect the incident to the excitement related to the [local elections]. Others put the blame on certain anti-social elements in society that is dead set on providing a painful distraction during the Christmas season, precisely in a region where Christians are in good number,” the archbishop said.
The two men were arrested Saturday morning, after being spotted entering the church on Friday evening.
The local representative in the state assembly, Terosh Gowala, pledged his solidarity with the local Christian community, promising to pay for the damaged crucifix and Marian statue.
Mr Gowala is a member of the Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which is in power at both the national level and within Assam state.
Although there has been a rise in anti-Christian acts across India since the BJP took power, relations between faiths in Assam has been relatively good.
The church vandalism comes exactly one year after a group singing Christmas carols was assaulted in Western India by Hindu nationalists.