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Indian Catholic school targeted by hardline Hindu mob

Principal rejects allegation of disrespecting Hindu god, says ‘we offer education to all equally’
Activists of a pro-Hindu organization hold a protest against Christian missionaries in Allahabad, India in October 2013. A Catholic school in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh was stormed by hardline Hindu activists alleging disrespect to a Hindu god on Sept. 26.

Activists of a pro-Hindu organization hold a protest against Christian missionaries in Allahabad, India in October 2013. A Catholic school in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh was stormed by hardline Hindu activists alleging disrespect to a Hindu god on Sept. 26. (Photo: AFP/ UCAN files)

Published: September 28, 2023 11:43 AM GMT
Updated: September 28, 2023 12:10 PM GMT

Hardline Hindu activists stormed a Christian school in central India, accusing it of disrespecting a Hindu god and demanding a police probe against its nun-principal.

The move "seems to be part of a well-orchestrated conspiracy to target our school,” said Sister Sarita Joseph, principal of the St Mary’s Convent School at Deori in Madhya Pradesh state's Sagar district.

A mob gathered at the school gate on Sept. 26 to protest the alleged removal of a sketch of Hindu god Ganesh from the notice board.

Some of the protesters forced their way inside the office of the principal and began questioning her.

The school staff sought police help as the protesters continued sloganeering. They demanded action against the principal and the withdrawal of government recognition for the school.

The school is managed by the nuns of the Congregation of Jesus (CJ) in the Sagar diocese of the Eastern Rite Syro-Malabar Church.

The mob left the school campus only after the police assured them of a thorough probe.

“It is totally a false allegation,” Sister Joseph told UCA News on Sept. 28.

The nun said the police took statements from her and other staff members on the alleged removal of the Ganesh sketch.

When contacted, a police official who is part of the probe, refused to disclose any information.

“I will not be able to say anything now as the probe is not complete,” he explained.

Sister Joseph said the school celebrates festivals of all religions and does not discriminate against anyone based on religion, caste, or creed.

“We offer education to all our students equally,” she said.

Daniel John, a Catholic leader based in the state capital Bhopal told UCA News that the incident “is nothing but an attempt to tarnish the image of the school and also of the Christian community.”

The state will be going to polls by the end of this year to elect 230 lawmakers.

“Unlike in the past, this is a tough election for the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party, which has ruled the state for 18 years,” John said.

The state has witnessed a series of similar incidents against Christian schools and other Catholic institutions including churches in the recent past.

Christian leaders say pro-Hindu groups register fake cases against Church leaders, including bishops, priests, nuns, pastors, and those working in Christian institutions, on charges of religious conversion.

Christian leaders suspect a larger strategy to create communal discord ahead of the state elections to unite Hindu voters in support of the ruling party.

Christians make up a mere 0.29 percent of the more than 72 million people in Madhya Pradesh.

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11 Comments on this Story
JOHN MASCARENHAS
1) a sketch was drawn presumably by one of the students. students are not permitted to write or draw sketches of any sort on the class board. this is MISCONDUCT! 2) if the hindu students felt aggrieved, why did they not inform their class teacher or the principal? 3) if the hindu students and their parents felt aggrieved, why did they not take their kids out of the school? THIS IS A CHRISTIAN RUN SCHOOL....IS THIS NOT UNDERSTOOD? 4) if anyone draws some gods or writes graffiti on private property, does the person who owns the property not have the right to clean it out or to put a police complaint for the CRIME? 4) do the UNEDUCATED BASTARDS/BIGOTS OF THE BJP THINK THEY OWN EVERYTHING AND CAN USE/ABUSE CHRISTIAN PEOPLE AND THEIR PROPERTIES, JUST BECAUSE THEY DO NOT FIGHT BACK?
PUSHP
What you wrote is true. Very foolish people are behind this.
IVAN
It's the notice board and not the class black board.
CYRIL ROZARIO
Rightly said bro john...these bloody bjp think too gr8 of themselves like as if they are king..but no brains only dirty politics of hate and communalism
MATTHEW
As a Practicing Member of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Community, I am SHOCKED and PAINED to read this. I studied in a Catholic Boarding School from the age of SIX and in ALL those Years, NOT Once was the school subjected to such Dastardly Nonsense. Whether or not this was a Cheap Political Stunt, the FACT remains that St Mary’s Convent IS a CATHOLIC School and the School Authorities have a RIGHT to Administer the School as per its’ Internal Codes – Which in turn are Governed by the Tenets of the Catholic Church. If Parents of Non-Catholics have CHOSEN to admit their Children to St Mary’s Convent, then it stands to Reason and LOGIC that their Wards should NOT OFFEND or HURT the Religious Sentiments of the Catholic Religion – Period. It is High Time that the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India (CBCI) Engages with the Various Catholic Orders to Discuss, Arrive at and Pursue Solutions to ADDRESS and ARREST this NONSENSE. We are a PEACEFUL Community and We ARE Indians – There is NO Justification Whatsoever that Our Religious Should be Subjected to Such Nonsense and as a Community, we have the RIGHT to Practice our Religion Peacefully and to Educate our Children in the Christian Tradition. Is this 21st Century India or a Banana Republic ? I Wonder
JUDE NORMAN
This is nothing short of blackmail. A mob gathers with saffron flags shouting slogans trying to intimidate the school administration. This criminal trespass on private property and the school administration should lodge a complaint with the police. I strongly suspect that some students indoctrinated by their parents are in league with the miscreants. The school administration should dismiss such students from the school. Also security at all minority schools should be tightened and cctv cameras installed to identify the miscreants.
STELLA THOMAS
Time to stand and fight this wicked persecution of Christians in India. India is no friend of Christians any more. Christian schools have always the forefront of education providers, quality education. If Hindus don't like their style of education, then don't send your children. Simple.
VINAY
India is no place for other religions now it's Hindu rashtra and we are forced to move out now, it's a shame when other countries encourage Hindus to build temples and practice their religion openly in India it's quite opposite
SANDY
Why doesn't India recall all its Hindu Population back to it's Hinduvta Nation, and why don't other countries send back the "hindus" as this country is intolerant towards other religions and yet touts itself as the largest democracy?
ORGINAL BHARTIY
Article was a true propoganda. It says they register fake casea on basis of conversation. It is not hidden thing, you all are converted and try to converted everyone like virus. now your main genocidal genocidal terrorist has saying bad things about our culture. Christian terrorist
JOHN MASCARENHAS
@original bahrtiy: WHAT TO YOUR KNOWLWEDGE WAS TRUE PROPAGANDA? THE ATTACK IN MADHYA PRADESH ON THE CHRISTIAN SCHOOL AND THE PRINCIPAL OR THE POLICE FIR? WHERE WAS THE STORY OF CONVERSION? WHERE WAS THE STORY OF SAYING BAD THINGS ABOUT INDIAN CULTURE? ARE WE NOT ALL INDIANS? YOU AND YOUR CRIMINAL HINDU TALIBAN (MOST HINDUS ARE DECENT PEOPLE,NOT CRIMINAL TALIBAN) TERRORISE CHRISTIANS, DESTROY OUR PROPERTIES AND REPORT FALSE CASE OF CONVERSIONS, AND YOU CALL US CHRISTIAN TERRORISTS? MAYBE THE HARE KRISHANS AND GURUS IN WESTERN COUNTRIES CONVERTING CHRISTIANS TO HINDUIM ARE TERORISTS ALSO?
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