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Asia

2012-01-31

ASIA/INDIA-Aggression on behalf of radical Hindus at the Jesuits’ campus: the dean arrested, students injured

Bangalore (Agenzia Fides) - It was a day of terror for the Jesuits and students of St. Joseph University Institute in Anekal, near Bangalore in the Indian state of Karnataka: the aggression was carried out by over 100 members of Hindu radical groups, hostile to the Christians and especially to their educational institutes, and could have had more serious consequences. Yesterday, January 30, a mob of extremists and violent elements of the radical Hindu groups "Vishwa Hindu Parishad", "Bajrang Dal", "Sakthi Rashtra Sene", "Karnataka Rakshana Vedike" broke into the university campus interrupting the lessons . The pretext – explains to Fides the NGO "Catholic Secular Forum" - was the lack of exposure of the national flag during Republic Day, celebrated yesterday in India.
The dean of the institute, P. Melwin Mendonca, SJ, told Fides that they lived hours of great fear, especially for the complicity of civil institutions and security forces. In the violent crowd, in fact, there were also some municipal Councilors of the city. Besides, when the Jesuits called the police, said the Dean, "the inspector and police officers were spectators of the violence, they even allowed that the unrest on the campus lasted for two hours".
P. Melwin Mendonca was not allowed to make any statement. The crowd clamored for his arrest. The Jesuit, to try to calm the situation down agreed to be arrested, even without any accusation. But instead of being transported by car, the agents, complying with the shouts of the crowd, forced him to make the journey to the police station on foot: the march of extremists continued to shout slogans against the Christian minorities and against the dean. Some students of the Campus, who intervened to surround and protect the dean, were beaten by the crowd and were injured.
The dean was detained by the police for no reason, from noon to 9 pm. When he was released, the police did not even want to register a complaint for personal assault, unlawful entry to the campus, for the beating up of students.
P. Melwin told Fides: "The display of the flag was a pretext. Hindu radical groups visited our institute eight times in the last academic year. They demanded that our students adhered to their movements. Some Hindu leaders claim that the permission to carry out the work of education is revoked and that Christians are not granted licenses for educational institutes because, they say, they destroy the culture of India. We have many similar cases in Karnataka, where Christians are persecuted".
St. Joseph university Institute has existed in Anekal for over 40 years. It currently welcomes 378 students, 200 of whom are Dalits or members of lower castes, 60 belong to other indigenous groups. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 31/01/2012)

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