ASIA/INDIA - Over 500 police officers monitor a Catholic College

Wednesday, 17 January 2018 hinduism   politics   religious minorities   religious freedom   freedom of conscience   extremism   human rights  

New Delhi (Agenzia Fides) - Over 500 policemen are monitoring St .Mary's College in the city of Vidisha, in Madhya Pradesh, to avert the attack by militants of the "Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad" (ABVP) extremist movement, student body of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), government political formation in several Indian states as well as at a federal level. The BJP and affiliated groups such as ABVP have tacitly approved that Hindu militants seek to take control or violate the freedom and commitment of Christian schools in Madhya Pradesh, central India and other parts of the country.
On 4 January, the police had thwarted ABVP's attempt to enter St Mary's College in Vidisha to carry out the Hindu rite of "Bharat Mata Aarti" (see Fides 4/1/2018 and 9/1/2018). The extremist groups had threatened to storm St Mary's College and carry out the rite by force on 16 or 17 January.
Sensing the danger, the diocesan Catholic Association of Madhya Pradesh called the police and civil institutions, seeking protection for its educational institutions.
"On January 15, the Deputy Prosecutor General of Madhya Pradesh gave the High Court of Jabalpur the guarantee of full protection of the College. It must be said that they kept their word. On January 16th, over 500 fully-equipped police officers were deployed", reports to Fides Mgr. Theodore Mascarenhas, SFX, Secretary General of the Indian Bishops' Conference. According to official reports, about 32 extremist leaders were arrested on 15 and 16 January.
Some agitators were stopped well before arriving at the College. And without the leaders who coordinated the action, the violent intentions failed.
"The Union's Interior Minister, Rajnath Ram Badan Singh, and the Administration of Madhya Pradesh deserve our congratulations and gratitude, we also believe in the power of prayer. We ask for the continued support and prayers of all", said Bishop Mascarenhas to Fides.
Last week, the Catholic Church of Madhya Pradesh filed a written petition to the High Court of Jabalpur demanding protection against groups of militant extremists who violate the freedom of religion guaranteed by the Constitution. The petition was accepted on January 15th and as a result the police assured their legitimate protection. (SD) (Agenzia Fides, 17/1/2018)



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