Bernard Digal, a resident of Orissa’s Kandhamal district died at St Thomas Hospital late Tuesday, October 28 in Chennai, formerly known as Madras, the capital the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, Catholic officials said. He underwent a surgery to remove a blood clot from the brain.
Digal, who was 84, “was in coma before he passed away at about 9:25 pm last night," said Father Joseph Kalathil, Vicar General of Bishop House, in a statement to Indian media. With Digal’s death, the total number of people died in the riots in Kandhamal rose to 38, the Press Trust of India (PTI) news agency reported. .
Digal was reportedly attacked by a mob on the night of August 25, when a nun was raped and a priest accompanying her was beaten up. Next morning, Digal was apparently found lying naked in a forest near Tiangia village and was first rushed to a government hospital before being shifted to a hospital in Bhubaneswar, Orissa’s capital.
He was later taken to St Thomas Hospital in Chennai to receive intense treatment, Catholic officials said. It was unclear whether Digal’s reported wish of being buried at his native place could be fulfilled, amid ongoing tensions in Orissa, where thousands have been forced to live in refugee camps.
Digal became a priest in 1992. He became the third influential religious leader to die in Kandhamal in the last two months after Hindu leader Swami Lakshmanananda Saraswati and his followers were killed on August 23, sparking a large-scale violence in the district, PTI reported.