The chapel door of St Stephen’s College was reportedly defaced with the words ‘mandir yahin banega’ (a temple will be constructed here)’ written on it with black ink on Friday. Photos of the writing on the door were circulated on social media. However, as of Saturday, the writing appeared to have been washed off.
A cross outside the chapel, on the grave of college founder Samuel Scott Allnut, was also said to have been defaced — with an ‘Om’ symbol drawn on it, along with the words ‘I’m going to hell’.Student union president Sai Aashirwad said he spotted the writing on Friday. “I had seen it in the afternoon, but I was told it has been removed today (Saturday),” he said.
When his comments were sought on Saturday, the college bursar, who’s officiating in the absence of the principal, denied any such incident. “I did not see anything written on the chapel door; there was no such incident,” Bursar Renish Abraham said, and denied reports that the college had filed a police complaint in this regard. Principal John Varghese was not available for comment.
The college had announced preparatory holidays for students from April 28, with only those taking the examinations visiting the campus. A final-year student said, “We don’t know when it was written. I saw it yesterday afternoon… Several others saw it too.”
A faculty member, who did not wish to be named, claimed, “I came to know of it last night when a former student sent me some pictures. We went and checked this morning but it seemed to have been washed and scraped off. It is a wood polished door, so there is some discolouration in the parts where the words were written.”
Nandita Narain, president of the college’s Staff Association, said she was told some non-staff members had washed off the writing.
The National Students’ Union of India (NSUI) has demanded an inquiry into the matter. “Both the slogans show the utterly disgusting mentality of the person or persons involved in such defacement of structures inside the college premises,” said Midrash Mathew, NSUI media in-charge.
ABVP state secretary Bharat Khatana also called for a probe. “The college should investigate who was involved in this condemnable incident. There must be CCTV cameras installed, which will help identify the culprits,” he said.
Congress MP Shashi Tharoor also expressed dismay at the incident in a tweet: “Dismayed to hear of vandalism at the chapel of St Stephen’s College, w/ “mandir yahin banega” scrawled on the door. Never thought a hate crime would literally darken the doors of my alma mater. The perpetrator must be found and an example made of him. @DelhiPolice.”