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For Immediate Release

Christian School Vandalized In Kashmir , India

You are free to disseminate the following news. We request that you reference ICC (International Christian Concern) and include our web address Contact Jeff King President, 301-989-1708, [email protected]

(September 14, 2006) The Washington-DC based human rights group, International Christian Concern (ICC) has just learned that the Good Shepherd Mission School in Jammu and Kashmir state’s Pulwama district was vandalized on September 11.

A local Christian, who requested not to be named, told ICC that the attack was seemingly organized by a few Muslim teachers of the school.

“Some students of a nearby government college demolished a wall, smashed windows and damaged furniture of the school and shouted slogans against Christian missionaries alleging they were converting Muslims. They tried to attack the founder of the school, Fr. Jim Borst, and the principal, Sister Veronica, but they managed to escape unhurt,” he said.

He explained that the school administration had suspended a Muslim teacher for allegedly blackmailing a Class 11 (approx. equivalent to 11th grade) student. Some teachers who were close to the teacher facing disciplinary actions got together and planned a protest. Besides demanding that the school cancel the suspension of the teacher, they started asking for better salary and permanent status of their appointment as teachers.

“These teachers put up a poster in the school in Urdu language saying they demands are in the name of Allah. Not knowing that the poster had the name of Allah, the principal tore it, after which the teachers incited the Muslim students of the government college to attack the school alleging that the school had insulted Allah and that its administration was converting Muslim students,” said the source.

Soon after the attack, police arrived and took Fr. Borst and Sister Veronica away from the school and gave them protection.

After the tension, the district authorities ordered that the school remain closed for at least five days. The district magistrate also stared an inquiry into the allegation of conversion made against the school.

“The school has been closed for five days as a precautionary measure in view of tension following allegations that it was trying to motivate people for conversion under the grab of spreading education,” District Magistrate Mehraj Ahmad Kakroo told the media.

The inquiry report is expected at the latest by Monday (September 18).

Fr. Borst, a Catholic priest of the Dutch Mill Hill order, has been living in Kashmir for more than 40 years. Two years ago, Muslim fundamentalists lobbied the state government to force him to move out. However, the elderly priest was allowed to continue to stay in the region.

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