The Catholic Bishops Conference of India (CBCI) might have raised great concern over the recent finding of a US-based forensic firm that hackers planted files in his computer’s hard drive to frame 84-year-old Jesuit priest Stan Swamy in the infamous Bhima Koregaon case.
However, the issue did not come up for discussion during a meeting on Wednesday, 21 December, between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the CBCI’s newly elected president Mar Andrews Thazhath.
Swami died in custody last year after suffering from Parkinson’s disease and contracting Covid-19 in jail. He was arrested in 2020, and had been in prison without bail.
Since then, activists have urged the Central government not to let such history be repeated, especially in the case of GN Saibaba.
Now, US forensic firm Arsenal has determined that evidence found on Swamy’s computer was fabricated by the same hackers whom the firm identified as those planting evidence on two other defendants in the case: Surendra Gadling and Rona Wilson.
What was discussed?
When reporters asked Thazhath, who is also the archbishop of Thrissur and archdiocese metropolitan of Ernakulam and Angamaly in Kerala, whether he took up the matter with the prime minister during their 15-minute discussion, he responded in the negative.
He also disclosed that the buffer-zone controversy, in which the Church was leading a farmers’ movement across Kerala, also failed to find a mention in the discussions.
Thazhath met the prime minister along with Union ministers V Muraleedharan and Rajeev Chandrasekharan.
He told reporters that the discussions were mainly on the need to invite Pope Francis to visit India.
During his visit to the Vatican, Modi invited the Pope to visit India. On his part, the Pope accepted the invitation.
Now, the CBCI wants the government to follow up and schedule the visit of the Pope in 2023.
However, Thazhath got no assurances over finalising the visit.
Modi is said to have recalled his meeting with the Pope and said that he was anticipating the visit of the head of the global Catholic Church.
Thazhath also said he shared some of the issues concerning Christians in general with the prime minister.
It was in November that Thazhath took over as CBCI president, and this was his first meeting with the prime minister.
The CBCI is the permanent association of Catholic Bishops of India. It was formally constituted in September 1944 at the Conference of Metropolitans held in what was then Madras.
Thazhath’s meeting with the prime minister, accompanied by two BJP ministers from Kerala, assumes significance in the backdrop of the party’s efforts to gain political mileage in the state by aligning with the Church.