MP’s missionary school vandalized by right-wing Hindu groups, director alleges police inaction

New Delhi: Members of right-wing organizations reportedly created a ruckus and engaged in acts of vandalism on Monday at a mission school in a town in Vidisha district, Madhya Pradesh. Bajrang Dal and Vishwa Hindu Parishad alleged the religious conversion of eight students to Christianity in the school – an accusation denied by the educational institute.

Police recorded a case of rioting against unidentified people after the incident at the premises of Saint Joseph School in Ganjbasoda, some 48 km from the district headquarters, under relevant articles of the Indian Penal Code (IPC ), Police Sub-Divisional (SDOP) said Bharat Bhushan Sharma. According to Indian express, four people have been detained so far.

The case was registered under IPC Section 147 (riots), 148 (riots armed with deadly weapons) and 427 (mischief causing damage in the amount of Rs 50).

Sharma said the school property was damaged. Eyewitnesses said stones were also thrown at the school building during the uproar.

The principal of the school, Brother Anthony Tynumkal, told the Indian express that the crowd was armed with iron bars and shouted “Jai Shri Ram” slogans.

St Joseph’s school was created 11 years ago and is run by the Malabar Missionary Society of the province of ASSISI, based in Bhopal, according to the Indian express. The majority of the students at the school are Hindus.

A spokesperson for the school administration said that after obtaining information about the protest through the media, the local administration was notified in advance of the possible disruption. But people started to gather and stones were thrown which caused damage of at least Rs 10 lakh to school property, he said.

The students were present for the exam at the school when the incident occurred.

Nilesh Agrawal, head of the VHP state office, told PTI that they only staged a peaceful protest outside the school and then submitted a memorandum to the local administration and denied any role of dress in disturbances at the institute.

In a memorandum submitted to the local administration after the protest, the VHP, Bajrang Dal, Hindu Jagran Manch and other right-wing organizations accused the school leadership of converting eight students to Christianity.

In a letter to the district collector on Sunday, however, St. Joseph’s Church denied all allegations of religious conversion and claimed that the rituals performed on eight Christian children resembled “Janeu Sanskar” in Hinduism (related to wearing ‘a sacred white thread) on October 30.

The church has also called for an investigation to find out the truth.

In the letter, the church accused some local YouTube channels of spreading fake news of religious conversion and creating community tensions and demanded criminal charges against them.

On the other hand, the school principal, in a separate letter to SDOP, asked for the protection of staff members and students, saying exams were underway. The principal’s letter also stated that media images of the alleged conversion did not represent school premises.

However, the manager alleged that the police did not act on time. “We asked for the protection of the police, and they assured us that the crowd would only shout a few slogans and disperse peacefully and even then they would give protection but the police did not show up… They only came. ‘after the goons left, “he said Indian express.

(With PTI inputs)

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