The gates of the United Theological College in Bengaluru, which were vandalized by protestors from the student wing of India's ruling Bharatiya Janata party. (Photo by Cynthia Stephen)
Hindu activists vandalized a theology college in southern India on Aug. 14 because they were angered by an Amnesty International seminar that criticized the Indian army's behavior in insurgency-hit Jammu and Kashmir state.
Hundreds of noisy protestors from the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (All India students' council), trespassed on the grounds of the United Theological College in Bengaluru a day after the rights group conducted a seminar on how families in Muslim-majority Jammu and Kashmir have been impacted by the actions of the Indian army.
The protestors shouted slogans and demanded those who participated in the seminar be arrested. They also damaged college property.
The protestors also wanted action against the Christian study center but college officials said that they had nothing to do with the Amnesty International event. The center is a popular venue rented out for public events, they said.
John Samuel Raj, principal of the theological college, told ucanews.com that his institution "has never been and shall never be a party to issues that would go against the interests and integrity of the nation."
He said that the college was not associated with the program and had merely hired out the hall, and no teachers or students had attended the event.
Police told ucanews.com that they have arrested some leaders of the student council. The Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad is the student wing of India's ruling Bharatiya Janata party federal government.
Seminar participants said that there were also disruptions during the event itself.
Sources told ucanews.com that some Kashmiri Hindus, who had to leave their home state because of violence in India's only Muslim-majority state, spoke in support of the Indian military and shouted slogans.
Several participants told ucanews.com that there were also opposing slogans that called for the state to be independent.
In the last 30 years, an estimated 100,000 people have died in Jammu and Kashmir, including civilians, militants and army personnel, after groups began an armed struggle for freedom from Indian rule or to merge with neighboring Pakistan. Both countries claim the region and each administer part.
Amnesty International publicized their event via social media and invited representatives from the Jammu and Kashmir community, including Hindus, "to share human rights violations faced by members of the community."
The Indian government considers Jammu and Kashmir an integral part of India and accuses Pakistan of aiding terrorism in the state.
Pakistan has denied this but says they will assist Kashmiri Muslims in their struggle for self-determination.
The region has been a sensitive issue for both India and Pakistan ever since they become two different nations on Aug. 14 1947 when British rule ended in the subcontinent. The nuclear powers have fought at least three major wars and continue to heavily guard their borders, resulting in occasional skirmishes.