Thursday, August 10, 2006

Indian Priest Dies Assisting Police

He was on his way to Meghraj where he was appointed new parish priest July 1. But little did he know death was stalking him en route. Father S.G. Prakash of Gandhinagar Archdiocese, who was asked by the local police to help them catch a suspicious-looking Maruti car that sped past a check-post, died instantly after crashing his Qualis jeep into a roadside tree at 10.30 p.m., August 5, on Modasa-Megharaj Road.
Eyewitnesses said that at the check-post on Modasa-Meghraj Road, the police and his companion Father Glacius Raj was called out for questioning flagged Father Prakash’s jeep down. Meanwhile, a Maruti car sped past without stopping at the check-post. Suspecting something to be amiss, two police officers jumped into Prakash’s jeep requesting him to give a chase to the fleeing car.
“Raj, I am coming back,” shouted Father Prakash to his companion and he chased the Maruti going in the direction of Modasa in Sabarkant district. Within seven kilometres, he caught up with the Maruti and its driver seemed to give way for the Qualis to overtake. But as Father Prakash tried to overtake the car, it swerved to the right pushing Father Prakash’s Qualis out of the tarred road. The priest lost control and smashed the jeep into a roadside tree. He died instantly of serious head injuries as he was thrown out of the vehicle.
The Maruti driver and a co-passenger took a country road to escape the police, but their car got stuck in sand. The duo abandoned the vehicle and made themselves scarce under the cover of darkness. The police discovered that the car, with a Rajasthan State registration, was carrying Indian-made foreign liquour.
A diocesan seminarian and two policemen travelling in the Qualis jeep escaped with minor injuries. A police jeep had also followed the chase. By the time the police brought Father Prakash to the check-post and to the Civil Hospital at Modasa, he was declared: “brought dead”.
More than a thousand people attended Father Prakash’s funeral Mass in the Cathedral Church at Gandhinagar, the capital of Gujarat State. The funeral service was led by Jesuit Archbishop Stanislaus Fernandes of Gandhinagar and Bishop Thomas Macwan of Ahmedabad Diocese as well as more than 150 priests from the two dioceses.
Forty-two-year-old Father Prakash had worked in different parishes and mission stations in Ahmedabad Diocese after his priestly ordination in 1993. Then he opted to serve in the Archdiocese of Gandhinagar which was erected in November 2002.
Father Prakash was an efficient priest with many talents, especially in music and audio-visual communication. He was specially chosen to be the first diocesan parish priest of Meghraj mission parish when the archdiocese took over the parish on July 1 from the Jesuits who had started the mission in 1980. The parish has school one to ten standards, a convent and separate hostels for boys and girls.
In the funeral, Bishop Macwan said Father Prakash had sacrificed his life for the country, as he gave a hot chase to the errant Maruti car at the request of the police officers of the Gujarat State

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