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Indian Police Chief Dismissed

September 5, 1999

NEW DELHI, India (AP) _ The Orissa state police chief said Sunday he had been transferred after saying that a Catholic priest may have been shot with arrows and beaten to death because people are being converted to Christianity.

Three people have been arrested in connection with the murder of the Rev. Arul Doss, 35, in the Keonjhar district of eastern Orissa state, said Dilip Mahapatra. He told private Star television news he had also been moved to another job.

Members of the Christian community in the state were outraged after Mahapatra, when asked by a reporter why the priest may have been killed, said: ``One reason is that in that area there have been reports of conversions of people and it may have been a reaction to that.″

Top state officials were heckled when they attended Doss’ funeral on Saturday.

``We’re not sure that the state officials are doing all they can″ to stop attacks on Christians, said another local priest, who gave his name as the Rev. Kaluvidkal.

Elsewhere in the state, in January, Australian missionary Graham Staines and his two young sons were burned alive as they slept in their jeep after a Bible study. Last month a Muslim shopkeeper had his hands chopped off and was burned alive by a gang in Orissa. Witnesses identified one of his assailants as Dara Singh, also wanted as the ringleader in the Staines killing.

Mahapatra said police have no evidence to link Dara Singh to Doss, who was attacked as he slept in a makeshift church, while companions watched Christians perform a tribal dance. When he fled, he was shot twice in the chest with arrows, then beaten to death. The church was burned.

Up to 16 people are believed to have taken part in the murder, Mahapatra said. Others were being questioned. The village is 700 miles southeast of New Delhi.

Christians make up roughly 2 percent of India’s nearly 1 billion people.

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