The Village of Rev. Arul Doss the Martyr, Revisited 18 long Years
On September 2nd 1999,Using bows and arrows, assailants killed a Catholic priest ,Aruln Doss in a part of Orissa state, where a Hindu fanatic is blamed for burning to death an Australian missioner and his two sons eight months before in the months of January on 23rd 1999..Father Arul Doss, 35, was attacked by 15-20 men in Jambani village in the eastern Indian state´s Mayurbhanj district early dawn Sept. 2, Balasore diocese sources reported based on testimony by eyewitnesses.The Anandpur parish priest had gone to the remote village to hold Mass for some 15 Ho tribal families during a harvest festival.
Quoting eyewitnesses, he said that the assailants entered Jambani, some 1,125 kilometers southeast of New Delhi, wearing cloth masks and pretending to watch the tribals as they sang and danced to celebrate the feast.
Meanwhile the priest and catechist Katesingh Khuntia were sleeping in a hut used for Mass, the disguised men entered the hut after 1 a.m. and first attacked the catechist who fell unconscious.
The commotion woke up Father Doss, who ran out of the hut, but the intruders shot him with arrows that pierced his chest and bleeding to death un attended by villagers fearing the assailants..
The Village of Rev. Arul Doss the Martyr, Revisited 18 long Years
In the face of persecution, many Christians chose to die before they would deny their Lord. Those who did so came to be called martyrs, which means, "witnesses." The following words give a vivid picture of Christian martyrdom, fearlessly telling the world that nobody can ever succeed in stopping them from preaching the good news to all the corners of the world as taught to them by the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. "Though beheaded, and crucified, and thrown to wild beasts, and chains, and fire, and all other kinds of torture, we do not give up our confession; but, the more such things happen, the more do others in larger numbers become faithful." -- Justin Martyr. Indeed, persecution seemed to have a dramatic effect on Christianity's numbers, but not in the direction intended by the persecutors. It was Tertullian who famously declared, "The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church. The second-century theologian Tertullian had converted to Christianity based in part on his wonder at Christians' faithfulness in the face of martyrdom and it clearly had a similar effect on others as well. The story of the 35-year-old Rev. Arul Doss, a native of Tamil Nadu, who was brutally martyred at Jamabani in Mayurbhanj district in Orissa, is not much different.
Rev. Arul Doss had been the priest of the Anandapur Roman Catholic Church in Mayurbhanj district for about five years. Sundaria village in Anandapur Block where he lived is bordering Keonjar and Mayurbhanj, the two districts of Orissa. Arul Doss lived in a small enclosure in the house of Darshan who lived along with his mother Kairi Biruwa. His life was every bit the life of a real missionary who lived always for others with only a bare minimum of necessities for his own simple unassuming life. He ate their simple food and suffered like them as he always wanted to be one with the tribals living their life always full of hardships. But he always took courage to live and perhaps even to die, as the early Christians did, practicing and preaching the word of God to the last and the least in that village always shunned and kept away for fear of their very lives by great many other priests who belonged to that diocese, which he very willingly accepted to serve. He drove his old motor cycle wherever it could take him and then walked miles after miles to reach out to the people who needed his comforting and consoling words. Next to the house where he lived, the Christian believers made bricks through the machines they had received from the benevolent donors. They were busy building a multipurpose hall consisting of a prayer hall, the living quarters and a children's tuition centre. This building has to serve for all purposes in all forms. .
Jamabani in Mayurbhanj, the place of the meeting to which Arul Doss began his last journey for martyrdom from Sundari Village, is about 40 kms from there. Jamabani, where Rev. Arul Doss was brutally martyred by the Hindu radicals had only about 20 believers but today it has more than 700 Christians which clearly goes to prove that the blood of the martyrs is indeed the seed of the Church. Rev. Anil is the present replacement. Rev. Doss used to pay weekly visits to Jamabani. The journey involved a 32-km scooter ride followed by a 9-km trek. "He had been in our diocese for five years, and he was a very good missionary. He led a simple life. He wanted to be with the poor all the time. He was interested in total transformation and holistic development. He was keen on organizing the poor people and educating them about their rights so that they could lead better lives,” said one of the local Christians who knew him well. On that fateful visit, Rev. Doss arrived at Jamabani on September 1, 1999, along with two other church workers, Darsan Biruwa and Kate Singh Khuntia, and organized a prayer meeting. They were watching a cultural program after the prayer meeting when a group of 10 to 15 persons armed with lathis, bows and arrows attacked them. The attackers pierced his body with a number of sharp arrows. The fanatic radicals also prevented anyone from coming to help the hapless priest who bled himself to death from the wounds caused by the arrows. The attackers also set fire to the local church before leaving the place. Khuntia’s condition too was very critical. According to Cardinal Toppo, “Fr. Doss became, for the Indian Church, a figure of Jesus Christ who was pierced by the soldier. His horrible death urges us on to renewed mission: he has not died in vain and the Indian Church has another powerful witness for the work and mission of the Church in India.”
The incident occurred in the "area of operation" of Dara Singh, who was wanted in the murder of Graham Staines and his two sons, Philip and Timothy and also one Sheikh Rehman.
The killing of Rev. Doss came barely a week after Dara Singh, the prime accused in the Staines murder case, allegedly killed Sheikh Rehman in Padiabeda. Dara Singh and his men allegedly chopped off Rehman's hands at a crowded market place before burning him to death. The sustained hate campaign against Christians in Orissa had assumed diabolic proportions with the killing of the Roman Catholic priest, Fr. Arul Doss, by a mob of non-Christian fanatics in that remote village. This was the third such incident involving minorities in the State that year: Australian missionary Graham Stewart Staines and his two sons were burnt to death at Manoharpur on the night of January 22, 1999, and Sheikh Rehman at Padiabeda village in Mayurbhanj district on August 26 1999.
Dara Singh, an alleged religious fanatic, was believed to be a Bajrang Dal activist who was on a "mission to take on the minorities." The CBI, identified Dara Singh as the prime suspect in the Staines murder case, and believed Dara Singh to have been involved in the killing of Rev. Arul Doss. Officials of the CBI said that Dara Singh had become a prominent figure in the area bordering Keonjhar and Mayurbhanj districts. His name entered the police records after he launched a series of attacks on Muslim cattle traders in the area. It was alleged that the villagers with whom Dara Singh shared his loot, harboured him. Evidence collected by the CBI so far reveals that Dara Singh instigated his supporters by saying that Christian missionaries spent a lot of money trying to "convert poor tribal brothers and sisters." According to investigating officers, Dara Singh was both respected and feared by the local people. The CBI had decided to start booking cases against those who had been harbouring him.
Dara Singh, whose real name is Rabindra Kumar Pal, had already been sentenced to death for the murder of the Australian missionary Graham Staines and his two small sons. In the sentencing he was found guilty of having led an attack in the district of Keonjhar when, on January 23rd 1999, they burnt Staines and his two sons.
As a member of Christ’s Church, concludes Cardinal Toppo, “I also pray for this Dara Singh, that, as he serves his term, God may initiate in him a transformation – so that the Light may illumine the darkness of his deeds”.