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Catholic nun attacked over man's death in India

Police investigate after a mob wrongly claimed that a Bihar hospital was negligent in treating a shotgun victim

Catholic nun attacked over man's death in India

Nazareth Hospital in Mokama. (Photo: Sisters of Charity of Nazareth)

Police in the eastern Indian state of Bihar are investigating a mob attack on a Catholic nun over alleged medical negligence at a hospital.

The Sisters of Charity of Nazareth congregation complained to police after the nun and a hospital staff member were attacked.

Sister Philo Kottor, the congregation’s provincial for Patna province, told UCA News that a mob of about 50 people claimed Nazareth Hospital in Mokama was negligent in a treating a villager who died from gunshot injuries.

“There was absolutely no truth about the medical lapse from our side because the man was brought dead to our hospital, but the mob suspected that we did not give the man proper care and had hidden his body,” the nun said.

Sister Kottor said a 40-year-old man named Pankaj Kumar Singh was returning home from work on a motorcycle when he was shot by unknown people.

A false rumor spread among villagers that he had been admitted to Nazareth Hospital, she said.

The hospital has functioned for more than 70 years serving all people without discrimination on the basis of caste, creed or religion

“Before Singh’s body came to our hospital, the mob arrived and started shouting and threatening our staff. During the commotion, Sister Aruna Kerketta was attacked and one staff member was injured, but both are out of danger now,” she said.

The nun said the mob was pacified when Singh’s body arrived along with local police.

The hospital has closed its emergency ward as a precautionary measure but its outpatient and inpatient departments are functioning.

Police are investigating the case but no one has been arrested.

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“Villagers were saying that personal enmity could be the cause of the shooting but political rivalry cannot be ruled out. We have full faith in the judiciary and will wait for justice,” Sister Kottor said.

“We were shocked because a nun had never been attacked in this locality. The hospital has functioned for more than 70 years serving all people without discrimination on the basis of caste, creed or religion.”

Nazareth nuns, who arrived in India after an invitation from the Jesuits in Patna in December 1947, started their first dispensary in July 1948. That became a general hospital with 10 beds and gradually grew into a 250-bed institution. In 1949, a nurses’ training school was established.

Nazareth Hospital’s second and third floors were added to the original building in 1950.

In 1952, a free leper clinic was opened separate from but under the auspices of the hospital.

In 2012, due to a lack of staff and plagued by problems with labor unions, the hospital was in danger of closing. But to avert closure the hospital refocused its attention on patients with HIV/AIDS, geriatrics and palliative care.

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