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Indian priest arrested over resort owner's suicide

Father Mavely, vice-chancellor of Assam Don Bosco University, is accused of abetting suicide over land dispute
Georgie’s Retreat Eco Camp in Assam

Georgie’s Retreat Eco Camp in Assam. (Photo: Facebook)

Published: May 26, 2022 09:09 AM GMT
Updated: May 26, 2022 09:48 AM GMT

Police in northeast India's Assam state have arrested a Catholic priest for allegedly abetting the suicide of a resort owner.

George Bordoloi, a Guwahati-based entrepreneur who owned Georgie’s Retreat Eco Camp, committed suicide in the early hours of May 23. In his purported suicide note, he accused Father Stephen Mavely, vice-chancellor of Assam Don Bosco University, of abetting his suicide. 

“The university was established in 2008 and from that year onwards there was a land dispute between the university and the owner of the adjacent land. The case is going on in court, hence we have no clue about his committing suicide,” Archbishop John Moolachira of Guwahati told UCA News on May 26.

“There was no pressure or harassment from Father Mavely and the university that led to the suicide of George Bordoloi. Both parties in the case were waiting for the judgment but before that this news comes, which is very unfortunate.

“Father Mavely is now in judicial custody. There was a court hearing yesterday and we are hopeful that we will be able to get bail for him soon. The university is run by the Salesians of Don Bosco and there were no such problems in the past. We hope that the court will soon give its judgment regarding the land dispute.”

According to media reports, police found Bordoloi hanging from a tree around 8am on May 23 in the resort’s compound. Police said they found a handwritten note at his home in Hatimura in Guwahati that mentioned Father Mavely.

Bordoloi said the university administration had accused them of trespassing on the university campus and destroying rubber and coconut trees

Patrick Bordoloi, the son of the deceased, lodged a first information report seeking the registration of a case against Father Mavely but the university has denied the allegations against the priest.

Police said Father Mavely, 72, was arrested under section 306 of the Penal Code on May 24 and was produced before the chief judicial magistrate’s court and sent to police custody for a day.

In the purported suicide note, Bordoloi had claimed that the court summons issued to him and his son on the basis of a complaint lodged by Father Mavely was false.

Bordoloi said the university administration had accused them of trespassing on the university campus and destroying rubber and coconut trees.

He termed the allegations highly objectionable and said his resort was far from the campus, so “Father Mavely should be held responsible for abetting my suicide,” the note said.

“My father had received a court summons that caused him mental agony and constant stress, forcing him to commit suicide because of Father Mavely”

His note said Father Mavely “is also responsible for blocking most of the elephant corridors by constructing buildings in their habitat, which compels the elephants to visit our village and destroy our crops.”

However, a forest official said the area was not a notified elephant corridor.

“My father had received a court summons that caused him mental agony and constant stress, forcing him to commit suicide because of Father Mavely,” Patrick Bordoloi said in his first information report. “On the basis of this written confession, Father Mavely should be booked.”

He later told the media that they had met Father Mavely several months ago with a request to withdraw the case.

Meanwhile, university officials have said that such an allegation against the vice-chancellor was unacceptable and that a thorough investigation of the suicide note should be carried out.

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