Bangalore: Priest found murdered in seminary premises

Bangalore, Apr 1: In a mysterious incident, the priest of a seminary in the city was found murdered in the premises of the seminary on Monday April 1 morning.

The body of Fr K J Thomas (65) was found lying in the St Peter's Pontifical Seminary premises in the morning.

It is suspected that he was killed at night and his body was shifted to a room by the culprits. Sources said that the murderers took advantage of the heavy rains that lashed Bangalore at night. Due to the rains, the security men were inside their quarters, which made it easier for the culprits.

The motive behind the murder is yet to be ascertained.

There is information that the procurator of the seminary had heard some sounds and possible screaming at around 2.30 or 3 am. But it is said he did not venture out of his room. This fact gives rise to questions and speculations.

The attackers apparently hit the face of Fr Thomas with a brick to prevent him from raising an alarm. His body was forcibly dragged inside the dining room of the seminary. The circumstances suggest that the priest's end came there.

The seminary is located in Yeshwantpur in the city, near Yeshwantpur police station. It is said that Fr Thomas was on his second posting in the Seminary's training centre.

Local policemen, additional police commissioner Alok Kumar, and various leaders visited the church. Investigations are on.

Archbishop Bernard Moras, vicar general Fr Antonyswamy and other priests have been camping in seminary since morning.

Mild mannered, soft spoken Fr K J Thomas, hails from Ettumanoor in Kottayam diocese. He however opted the Ooty diocese. Fr K J has been serving as rector for a long time. With the language issue rocking archidiocese since last several years, Fr K J though a Malayalee, has been deftly and tactfully managing the seminary. Fr K J's popularity can be gauged from the fact that he has been serving as rector for the second term and liked by everybody for his affable and friendly nature. He has been serving seminary for some 30 years in different capacities.

Fr K J Thomas was to go to the airport today morning to receive his sister, who is a nun, coming from Pondicherry. The sister, who was surprised that repeated calls to Fr Thomas went unanswered, came from the airport to the seminary in an auto rickshaw, but she was asked to stay at the nearby convent as the policemen had already arrived and begun investigations.

According to some sources, unidentified assailants chased Fr Thomas, who was running for his life, and hit his face and head with bricks. It is as yet not certain whether he was stabbed or not. The attackers were so brutal that those who saw his body could not identify it initially.

The sources also guessed that the attackers would have come with the intention of committing theft there, as apparently they had ransacked the reception counter for keys and valuables.

It may be recalled that pro-kannada activists of Akhila Karnataka Catholic Chraistara Sangha with the support of some priests have been demanding that St Peter's Seminary should be declared an exclusive Kannada seminary and that its management should be entrusted only Bishops from Karnataka and not Tamilandu as is the present case.

Another version according to informed sources is that the intruders may have been after some valuable documents as Fr K J's room was ransacked. However, his laptop, iPad and other valuable gadgets were left untouched.

Fr K J's brother and nephew are expected to arrive from the US.

The body has been taken to M S Ramaiah Hospital for post-mortem and will be kept in the mortunary afterwards.

Archbishop Dr Bernard Moras has condemned the dastardly and most heinous act of murder of a pious, soft-spoken and mild mannered priest like Fr K J Thomas.

The archbishop said the details of the funeral like date and place will be decided by the bereaved family of Fr K J and the Ooty bishop.