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New Delhi: Members of right-wing organisations allegedly created a ruckus and indulged in vandalism at a missionary school in a town in Madhya Pradesh’s Vidisha district on Monday. The Bajrang Dal and Vishwa Hindu Parishad alleged religious conversion of eight students to Christianity in the school – a charge denied by the educational institute.
Police have registered a case of rioting against unidentified persons after the incident in the premises of Saint Joseph School in Ganjbasoda, some 48 km from the district headquarters, under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), Sub-Divisional Officer of Police (SDOP) Bharat Bhushan Sharma said. According to the Indian Express, four people have been detained so far.
The case has been registered under IPC Section 147 (rioting), 148 (rioting armed with deadly weapons) and 427 (mischief causing damage to the amount of Rs 50).
Sharma said the school’s property was damaged. Eyewitnesses said stones were also pelted at the school building during the ruckus.
School principal Brother Anthony Tynumkal told the Indian Express that the mob was armed with iron rods and shouted ‘Jai Shri Ram’ slogans.
St Joseph School was set up 11 years ago and is run by the Bhopal-based Malabar Missionary Society of ASSISI Province, according to the Indian Express. A majority of the school’s students are Hindus.
A school management spokesman said that after getting the information about the protest through the media, the local administration was intimated in advance about the possible disturbance. But the people started gathering and stones were pelted which caused damage of at least Rs 10 lakh to the school property, he claimed.
The students were present for the examination in the school when the incident occurred.
State VHP office-bearer Nilesh Agrawal told PTI that they had only organised a peaceful protest outside the school and later submitted a memorandum to the local administration and denied any role of the outfit in the disturbance at the institute.
In a memorandum submitted to the local administration after the protest, the VHP, the Bajrang Dal, the Hindu Jagran Manch and other right-wing organisations accused the school management of converting eight students to Christianity.
In a letter to the district collector on Sunday, the Saint Joseph Church, however, denied all allegations of religious conversion and claimed rituals which were performed on eight Christian children were like ‘Janeu Sanskar’ in Hinduism (related to wearing a white, sacred thread) on October 30.
The church also called for an investigation to find out the truth.
In the letter, the church accused some local YouTube channels of spreading false news of religious conversion and creating communal tension and demanded penal action against them.
On the other hand, the school principal, in a separate letter to the SDOP, sought protection for staff members and students, saying exams are being conducted at present. The principal’s letter also said pictures of alleged conversion being circulated in the media are not of the school premises.
However, the principal alleged that the police did not act in time. “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,” he told Indian Express.
(With PTI inputs)