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Catholic school in Madhya Pradesh vandalised by Hindu groups

🔴 Police said four people have been detained in connection with the incident, while CCTV footage is being checked to find the other accused.

Written by Iram Siddique | Bhopal |
Updated: December 7, 2021 8:00:42 am
Catholic school in Madhya Pradesh vandalised by Hindu groupsThe incident occurred while the school was conducting exams for Class 12 students. (Express Photo)

Bajrang Dal and Vishwa Hindu Parishad activists on Monday afternoon vandalised a Catholic school at Ganj Basoda tehsil in Madhya Pradesh’s Vidisha district, accusing the school authorities of religious conversion. Police said four people have been detained in connection with the incident, while CCTV footage is being checked to find the other accused.

The incident occurred at around 12:10 pm, when around 300 people gathered outside St Joseph High School to protest — while the school was conducting exams for Class 12 students. The mob soon turned violent and broke into the school premises, damaging property. School principal Brother Anthony Tynumkal told The Indian Express that the mob was armed with iron rods and stones, and chanted ‘Jai Shri Ram’ while damaging school property.

Alleging police inaction, Tynumkal said, “We requested the police for protection, and they assured us that the mob would only shout a few slogans and disperse peacefully and even then, they would give protection but the police failed to show up… They only came after the goons had already left.”

Sub-Divisional Police Officer for Ganj Basoda tehsil, Bharat Bhushan, denied the allegation. He said, “It was meant to be a peaceful protest… A few miscreants used the opportunity and hurled stones at the glass cover on the school building and damaged it… The school authorities were not only given protection [but] there was prompt action and police has already taken four members of the Bajrang Dal into custody.”

Police have registered a case under IPC Section 147 (rioting), 148 (rioting armed with deadly weapons) and 427 (mischief causing damage to the amount of Rs 50).

Bhushan said that the Vidisha SP and district magistrate have visited the school to take stock of the situation.

St Joseph School was set up 11 years ago and is run by the Bhopal-based Malabar Missionary Society of ASSISI Province. The school has about 1,500 students, and a majority of them are Hindus.

VHP leader Neelesh Aggarwal, who led the protest at the school, said that as per a media report, eight Hindu girls had been converted at the school on October 31. He said that National Commission for Protection of Child Rights chairman Priyank Kanoongo had also written the Vidisha collector over the issue.

However, Tynumkal refuted the allegations, saying the school had organised holy communion for its Christian students on October 31. “A video of that event was shot and circulated on YouTube, falsely implying that students of the school were being converted. But none of the students participating in the event even study in the school,” he said.

He also noted that though the NCPCR chair had written to the collector, no action was taken by the district authorities. “We did not receive any further communication from the collector’s office as it was a completely baseless complaint,” said Tynumkal.

Bhushan also clarified that the conversion complaint against the school authorities was baseless and that the video that had emerged of was false.

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