Ground Report | New Delhi: Recent attacks on churches in India; In Madhya Pradesh, a mob has attacked a missionary school, accusing it of proselytizing, breaking into the school, throwing stones, vandalizing it, threatening students, teachers, and other staff.
Ruckus in school in MP
St Joseph’s School was attacked by a mob of about 500 people alleging the alleged conversion of eight children. It is alleged that the attackers belonged to organizations like Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Bajrang Dal. Four people have been arrested in this case. At the time when the school was attacked, the 12th examination was going on there.
Activists of the Bajrang Dal in the state of Madhya Pradesh attacked the school yesterday, accusing it of forcibly converting to another religion. Students, teachers, and staff barely survived.
Mobs stormed a missionary school in central India, smashing glass windows with stones and uprooting signboards while children were taking exams inside. The attack was prompted by local reports that claimed eight children were forcefully converted by the church organization that runs the school, a theory that has fueled several recent attacks against minorities in India.
The frightened students, who later spoke to the media, said that they saw pieces of broken glass fall when they were writing the exam in the morning.
Videos circulating on social media showed the crowd forcibly raising slogans of “Jai Shri Ram” (Victory to Lord Ram) and “Bharat Mata ki Jai” (Bharat Mata ki Jai Ho) at St. Joseph’s School, usually, There are two slogans associated with Hindu right-wing organizations.
Recent attacks on churches in India
In October, a mob of over 200 people armed with iron rods ransacked a church in the city of Roorkee during Sunday prayers. Nevertheless, police have registered complaints against those who were in the church that day for allegedly forcibly converting, while no one has been arrested for the sabotage.
“We have all the documentary evidence of attacks on Christians. Hindu activists behind the attacks accuse us of religious conversion activities, but there is no evidence,” says United Christian Forum coordinator C Michael.
In October in the state of Uttar Pradesh, a priest was dragged into a police station by a mob for allegedly converting people to Christianity. In the same month, in the southern Indian state of Karnataka, a mob of members of the Bajrang Dal and Vishwa Hindu Parishad stormed a makeshift church to protest alleged forced conversions thereby singing Hindu religious songs.
According to a recent report titled “Attack on Christians in India”, in the first nine months of 2021, over 300 attacks on Christians were documented from 21 states.
The report found that out of a total of 305 incidents of anti-Christian violence, four north Indian states recorded 169: 66 in BJP-ruled Uttar Pradesh, 47 in Congress-ruled Chhattisgarh, 30 in tribal-dominated Jharkhand, and 30 in BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh.
While the freedom to choose and practice any religion is a constitutionally guaranteed right in India, members of Hindu nationalist parties see this as a conspiracy to change India’s demography. Christianity is the third largest religion in India and Christians constitute a little over two percent of the total population.