DHAKA – Bangladeshi police on Thursday were investigating the disappearance of a Catholic priest who went missing this week in the northern district of Natore, where a Christian businessman was murdered last year.
“We have engaged our entire force to find the priest but so far we have not found any clue with which we could go forward,” Superintendent of Natoe, Biplob Bijoy Talukder told EFE on the disappearance of Walter William Rosario.
He said that the family had received a call demanding a ransom “but it appeared to be a hoax.”
“There is a gang which kidnaps people for ransom but we did not find any link between this incident and them,” he said, adding that they were investigating all possible leads.
A spokesperson for the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Bangladesh, Kamal Corraya, said that Rosario, assistant priest at Jonail Catholic Church and the headmaster of a local high school from Bonpara area of Natore, disappeared Monday afternoon.
“He was going to the church from his village and since then there has been no trace of him,” said Corraya.
He added that he hoped the incident had no connection to the extremist attacks on members of religious minorities, bloggers, intellectuals, homosexuals and foreigners in Bangladesh since 2013.
“We are really worried about the security of Christian people. But we hope this incident will not influence the visit of his Holiness Pope Francis,” he said.
The Pope was due to arrive in Dhaka on Thursday as part of his three-day visit, making him the second pontiff (after John Paul II in 1986) to visit since the independence of Bangladesh in 1971.
Just under 90 percent of the population practice Islam in Bangladesh a traditionally moderate Muslim country, with 0.4 percent of the population being Christian, of whom 450,000 are Catholics.