Death threats cause missionaries to abandon Catholic schools in India
Missionaries and teachers of Catholic schools in the north-eastern Indian State of Manipur have been forced to flee following persistent death threats from separatist militants.
The Rome-based MISNA news agency quotes reports that the area is patrolled by twenty-some separatist groups fighting for tribal "self-determination".
It says they are financing their battle against the state and federal governments by extorting money from professionals, businessmen and others. In the past months, eight missionary schools in Manipur were told 'there will be bloodshed' when they rejected demands for $A21,279 from each school.
The missionaries called on the militants to spare the religious institutes that continue to assist tribals, but they responded with new demands, stating that "all should pay taxes for the freedom of the land".
There have been several violent attacks against Catholic priests in recent years following the 1990 murder of Fr Matthew Manianchira in Canchipur. In 1997 unidentified gunmen killed Salesian school principal Fr N. V. Joseph.