Christian priest kills himself days after booked by MP Police for sharing post on Manipur

A Christian priest, who was recently booked by the Madhya Pradesh police for sharing a post on Manipur violence in social media died by suicide on September 14, Thursday.

Fr Anil Francis, a Syro Malabar Church priest and a manager in St Alphonsa Academy at Garhakota in Sagar district of Madhya Pradesh, was booked by police a month ago for sharing the post on Manipur violence in a WhatsApp group.

The FIR was lodged against him alleging insult to the national flag. The FIR was registered based on a complaint and pressure from Hindutva groups.

The priest was under tension and pressure over the FIR, said his colleagues.

The body of Francis was found a day after he arrived at the bishop’s house to attend the two-day retreat, according to Father Sabu Puthenpurackal, public relations officer of Sagar diocese.

Police brought down the body and sent it for a post-mortem.

“A month ago he had posted a message related to the Manipur issue, which also had India’s national flag. A former student from Udaipura, where he worked as a principal for six years, along with members of Sangh Parivar groups, saw his WhatsApp post and filed a criminal defamation complaint stating that he insulted the national flag,” The News Minute quoted Fr Jose Malekudy, Judicial Vicar, Sagar diocese, as saying.

He added: “That post did not have anything against the national flag. Even the police were not ready to register the case, but they were pressured by certain groups. But no further actions were taken in the case.”

In a suicide note, Francis wanted his body to be cremated instead of buried.

Madhya Pradesh is ruled by the Bharatiya Janata Party and is among 11 Indian states that have enacted a draconian anti-conversion law which is often used against Christians and Muslims.