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Ranchi gears up for Jesuit martyr's golden jubilee

Feb. 19, 2014

Hectic preparations are going on in Kutungia parish of Ranchi Archdiocese as it gears up for the golden jubilee celebration of the Jesuit martyr, Fr Herman Rasschaert. Jesuits have undertaken the task of making a documentary film on the martyrdom of Father Rasschaert, who was killed while trying to protect people against rioters in 1964.

Some senior Jesuits have visited the sites connected with the missionary and met and interviewed people under the guidance of Father Jailas Kullu, the parish priest. Along with the various committees, he is undertaking plans and preparations of the upcoming jubilee celebration. Father Rasschaert was born in exile in the Netherlands on September 13, 1922. He entered the Society of Jesus on September 07, 1941. He arrived in India in November 1947. He was killed at Gerda on March 24, 1964.

From January 1964 onwards, atrocities had made thousands of Hindu refugees flee East Pakistan; hundreds of them, some with mutilated bodies, were sent by train from Calcutta through North Orissa to re-settlement areas in Madhya Pradesh.

Their sight provoked riots in Jamshedpur and Rourkela; rumours swept through the villages along the railway-line, that Pakistan was going to attack, that local Muslims were poisoning wells, taking away fields or arming themselves.

Armed bands began in panic to attack isolated Muslim houses and hamlets; Muslims fled North to bigger Muslim centres like Gerda, a village of 36 Muslim and 18 Catholic houses, 12 km away from Kutungia. Hundreds of them jammed the compound of the mosque on Monday March 23, 1964.

The same afternoon – a mob of thousands surrounded the mosque-compound and some Muslims were killed; the slaughter stopped when night fell. After Mass, the next day on March 24, the missionary’s catechist told him what was happening in Gerda. After a prayer reflection he rode his cycle and went to Gerda to pacify them but he was killed. 

Source: UCAN

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