Bhubaneswar (Agenzia Fides) - The catechist and Catholic activist Rabindra Parichha, 47, was killed in Orissa, a state in eastern India. Parichha worked in the famous district of Kandhamal, the scene of anti-Christian massacres carried out in 2008 and part of the diocese of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar, but was killed while he was in Bhanjanagar, in the neighboring Diocese of Berhampur, always in Orissa. This is what is confirmed to Fides by His Exc. Mgr. John Barwa SVD, Archbishop of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar, who is "saddened by the tragic event". "I personally knew Parichha - the Archbishop told Fides - who was a student of mine. He was a reference point for many villages in the district of Kandhamal. The faithful will miss him very much. He was a leader committed to the civil community and was elected as the Sarpanch (head of the Council of a group of indigenous villages): the pastoral and social work was his mission, which he carried out with passion".
The police has started investigations into the murder, which occurred between the evening of yesterday, and early morning hours today. As Fides learns from local sources, Parichha's body was found on the College campus "Kabi Samrat Upendra Bhanja", in the district of Ganjam. Last night the activist had been called on the phone by a neighbor and never returned home. His wife and children started looking for him and alerted the police, who found the body this morning. Parichha had his throat cut and stabbed wounds to the hands and stomach. Over 200 villagers of Bhaliapada, where he was originally from, have already reached Bhanjanagar to take his body.
Parichha, a former itinerant catechist in the parish of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal in Mondasoro (Kandhamal district), had been working at the Orissa Legal Aid Centre, supported by Christian churches in Kandhamal for three years. As reported to Fides by Prasan Kumar Bishoyi, Parichha's colleague at the OLAC, "he was very busy as a lawyer and activist for human rights: the cause of the murder could be linked to his work. We do not exclude the possibility that the perpetrators are radical Hindus". According to local sources, he is the third Christian leader killed this year in Orissa
Archbishop Barwa told Fides: "Violence is always an unjustifiable act. Life is God's and no man has the right to take it away. We do not know the reasons and the authors of the murder: we want to discover the truth and ask for the authorities' commitment". Despite these painful episodes, a Christmas message that the Archbishop will send in the next few days to the people of the diocese - explains Mgr. Barwa to Fides - aims "to encourage the faithful to look at life with eyes of hope" because "Christmas is the feast of God's gift to humanity". (PA) (Agenzia Fides 16/12/2011)