Father Edward Sequeira, a priest of the Society of Divine Word, was seriously injured when his mission station was attacked by a mob in Orissa. Father Sequeira narrated his story of mob hate.

A LARGE MOB of more than 700 people were returning after attending the cremation of Swami Laxmananand Saraswati who was killed along with four others on Saturday evening by suspected Maoist guerrillas at his Jalespata ashram.

The mob was chanting anti-Christian slogans and when they reached Padampur in Bargarh district, they attacked the orphanage where Father Sequeira lived.

Ms Rajni, a 20-year-old student who lived in the orphanage and who was also working as an auxiliary nurse there confronted them.

When Father Sequeira arrived, the mob locked him and Rajni into separate rooms and ordered the children to vacate the orphanage. The mob then ransacked Father Sequeira’s room, poured petrol on him and on Rajni and set the orphanage on fire.

"I was engulfed in flames, I could hear the cries of Rajni and the mob was cheering and shouting through the windows," recalled Father Sequeira.

He managed to crawl to the bathroom, beat out the flames and closed the windows.

"When I started to suffocate I found a crack on the wall that was damaged in the attack and kept my nose there to breath some air. All the while I could hear the cries of Rajni from the next room where she was writhing in agony. After some time, there was silence and I thought she must have managed to escape from the room," said Father Sequeira.

Unknown to Father Sequeira, the girl was burnt alive and had died.

People from the neighbourhood who heard the cries of children rushed to the rescue, broke the walls and brought Father Sequeira to safety. That was when the mob attacked him again outside the orphanage and beat him up mercilessly till he became unconscious. He was initially rushed to the hospital at Padampur and later, with the help of local officials, was shifted to Burla Medical College Hospital, in Sambalpur.

"The cries of Rajni and the guilt of helplessness in saving her life will always haunt me," Father Sequeira sighed.

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