Kidnapped bishop handcuffed and beaten then released

ReutersChristians in India protest persecution.

A bishop in southern India has been released after suffering kidnap and violent assault.

Bishop Gallela Prasad, of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Cuddapah in the state of Andhra Pradesh, was blind-folded, handcuffed and kidnapped on his way home from celebrating Mass at the popular Karunagiri Shrine.

Bishop Prasad, aged 54, whose motto is "The Lord is my strength and I trust in him", said he was taken to an undisclosed location by the kidnappers.  "They hit me and punched me resulting in injuries all over my body. I did not resist," he told ucanews.com.

He said he was quizzed repeatedly about diocesan finances by his assailants. Cuddapah is a suffragan diocese of Hyderabad Archdiocese and has more than 100,000 Catholics.

The kidnappers also demanded five million rupees, or over £50,000. They told him that since he helped so many other people, he should help them too. They also claimed to be from the police before releasing him the following day. "They appeared to be paid goons and non-Christians from the way they talked and behaved," he said.

Archbishop Thumma Bala of Hyderabad said in a statement: "It is unbelievable that such a violent atrocity is perpetrated on a high ranking religious leader of a minority community, who is totally dedicated to the service of the needy and marginalised."

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