Monday, June 19, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Brother George’s killing
Eyewitness dies in custody

NEW DELHI, June 18 (UNI) — An eyewitness to the brutal murder of Brother George in Mathura on June 7 died “mysteriously” in police custody yesterday, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India said here today.

Twentythree-year-old Vijay Kumar Ekka, who was Brother George’s cook, was allegedly picked up last night by suspended Station Officer S. Sharma in Mathura and taken to the police station. “Two hours later the Catholic Brothers were informed that Ekka had died,” CBCI spokesman John Dayal said.

Archbishop Concessao, whose arch-diocese includes Mathura, rushed to the spot as soon as he was informed. The body was removed to the police lines and was subsequently taken for autopsy today. The body showed signs of acute torture, the United Christian Forum for Human Rights said.

An FIR under Sections 302 (murder) and 342 have been filed against the police officials and the forum has demanded the immediate arrest of Sharma and Upadhyaya and the transfer of senior officers of Mathura district for gross dereliction of duty.

Archbishop of Agra Vincent Concessao rushed to Mathura with Chruch lawyers who filed an FIR against S. Sharma, holding him responsible for Ekka’s death in custody.

The SHO had been suspended for dereliction of duty in the investigation of the murder of Brother George.

“How come a suspended police officer could take away a crucial eyewitness who could have seen the killers” Mr Dayal asked.

Ekka had recently got married and his wife was expecting a child.

Brother George Kuzhikandan was clubbed to death on the courtyard of St Francis Public School in Nevada village of Mathura on June 7. A 10 year old student who was sitting with him was dragged to an adjacent building and locked up by the intruders.

Ekka, who was bringing the priest his morning coffee, saw the blood soaked body and rushed to the Sacred Heart Convent, a little distance away to inform the Nuns about the murder.

Brother George and Ekka’s killings came following several attacks on Nuns and priests in the area in March and April. The Sacred Heart Convent Nuns were threatened, Father Joseph Dabre of St Dominic High School, Mathura, was attacked and Father Thomas of Kosikalan was mercilessly beaten up and left for dead.

The Mathura police has repeatedly been saying that these were cases of vandalism and there was nothing communal about it.

A day after Brother George’s murder a series of blasts rocked churches in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Goa. Union Minister of State for Home Vidyasagar Rao had reportedly said that the blasts in the churches and attacks on Christian missionaries could be the handiwork of Pakistan’s ISI.

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