Missionary school in India attacked by mob in latest example of rising hate crimes against Christians

In the first nine months of 2021, more than 300 attacks were documented against Indian Christians

Stuti Mishra
Tuesday 07 December 2021 14:46
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<p>A crowd of dozens stormed the school in Ganj Basoda town of central India’s Madhya Pradesh state on Monday </p>

A crowd of dozens stormed the school in Ganj Basoda town of central India’s Madhya Pradesh state on Monday

A mob has stormed a missionary school in central India, shattering glass windows with stones and uprooting signboards while children were taking an exam inside.

The attack was prompted by local reports which claimed eight children had been forcefully converted by the church organisation that runs the school, a theory that has fuelled several recent attacks against minorities in India.

The incident took place in Ganj Basoda in central India’s Madhya Pradesh, a state governed by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Members of Hindu right-wing organisations like the Bajrang Dal and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) had sought permission to hold a protest against the school based on rumours of religious conversion, the police said.

“On Monday, people handed over a memorandum to the sub-divisional magistrate and later, the mob turned violent and pelted the school premises with stones,” said Bharat Bhushan Sharma, sub-divisional officer of police, according to the Hindustan Times.

Terrified students who spoke to the media afterwards said they saw pieces of shattered glass fall in when they were writing an exam in the morning.

Videos circulating on social media showed a mob forcing their way into St Joseph School as they chanted “Jai Shri Ram” (Hail Lord Ram) and “Bharat Mata Ki Jai” (Hail Mother India), two slogans commonly associated with Hindu right wing organisations.

The attackers made no attempts to hide their identities, and in fact, shot videos of their proceedings on their phones.

Member of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, a radical right-wing Hindu group that has been linked to violent incidents in the past, claimed “poor students [were] brought from other states” to the school and were “being converted”.

The school administration accused the police of not providing adequate security.

The police arrested 50 people who were involved in the attack.

The latest incident is not a one-off as India has seen an increasing number of hate crimes and attacks against minorities such as Muslims and Christians in recent months.

In October, a crowd of more than 200 people, armed with iron rods, ransacked a church in the city of Roorkee during Sunday prayers. Yet, the police have registered a complaint against those who were in church that day for alleged forceful religious conversion, while no one has been arrested for vandalism.

“We have all the documentary proof of attacks on Christians. The Hindu activists behind the attacks blame us for religious conversion activities but have no proof”

AC Michael, coordinator of United Christian Forum

In Uttar Pradesh state in October, a pastor was dragged to the police station by a mob for allegedly converting people to Christianity. The same month, in southern India’s Karnataka state, a crowd of members from the Bajrang Dal and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad stormed a makeshift church singing Hindu religious songs to protest alleged forced religious conversions there.

Following most of these incidents, authorities have been accused of giving precedence to complaints by Hindu groups and arresting minorities, instead of the attackers, according to rights organisations.

Incidents of mob violence against Christians has steadily increased under the Hindu nationalist government of Narendra Modi, say rights organisations.

In the first nine months of 2021, more than 300 attacks on Christians were documented from 21 Indian states, according to a recent report titled “Christians under attack in India”.

While the freedom to choose a religion and follow it is a constitutionally-guaranteed right in India, members of Hindu nationalist parties see it as a conspiracy to change India’s demographics.

Christianity is India’s third largest religion and Christians account for a little over two per cent of the total population.

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