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Hindu Extremists Assault Staff at Catholic School

December 1 (Compass Direct News) – Members of a youth wing of a Hindu extremist group entered the Avila Convent Catholic Girls’ High School at Mysore in Karnataka state on Thursday (November 30) and assaulted several staff members.

The members of the Bajrang Dal, youth wing of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), accused the school of attempting to convert Hindu children.

“Four men entered my office at around 11:30 a.m., identifying themselves as from the Bajrang Dal and VHP,” the school headmistress, who goes by the single name of Sister Francina, told Compass. “One of them opened a bag and threw a few books onto my table. He then asked me why literature on the Christian faith was being distributed around a nearby Hindu Sadvidya School.”

When Sister Francina denied any knowledge of the books or their content, another VHP member entered her office along with a man they identified as Buta Singh, who is not an employee of the school. The extremists claimed that Singh was distributing Christian literature at her request.

When Singh denied this, the extremists dragged him outside and hit him repeatedly.

An hour later, about 50 people entered the school premises and began verbally abusing the staff members, accusing them of unethical conversion.

As the mob grew frenzied, one of the extremists tried to slap Sister Francina. When school staff members tried to rescue her, the extremists severely beat them.

The extremists also damaged a statue of the infant Jesus on the convent property.

Police arrived and asked the school staff members, Singh and the extremists to go with them to the police station. When Sub-Inspector Shanta Ramu arrived a few minutes later, however, he asked all parties involved to get out of the police van.

“Ramu told me that it was an offense to carry out conversion activities at the school,” Sister Francina said. “He was clearly in favor of the Bajrang Dal and VHP members.”

More than 50 staff members from the school have since filed a complaint against the attackers. At press time, police had arrested one Bajrang Dal member, identified only as Sanjay, for defacing the statue.

“Attacks on Christians are increasing,” Father K.A. William, Chancellor of the Mysore diocese, told Compass. “Bishop Thomas Vazhapilly and I have complained to the Mysore police commissioner about the growing number of attacks in the state. He assured us that the necessary action would be taken.”

Dr. Sajan George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians, also condemned the attack and called on the central and state governments to intervene on behalf of the Christian community in Karnataka.

The high school, established by the Carmelite Sisters of Saint Teresa in 1954, has around 1,000 students.