Members of Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Bajrang Dal on Monday vandalised a Christian school in Madhya Pradesh’s Vidisha district, alleging that eight students were forcefully converted to Christianity, PTI reported.
The police have registered a case of rioting and vandalism against four members of Vishwa Hindu Parishad and 50 members of Bajrang Dal, said Sub-Divisional Officer of Police Bharat Bhushan Sharma, according to the Hindustan Times.
“The members of the different organisations, including VHP and Bajrang Dal, had announced to hold a protest against an alleged conversion of eight children at St Joseph School,” he said. “On Monday, people handed over a memorandum to the sub-divisional magistrate and later, the mob turned violent and pelted the school premises with stones.”
In a video posted by AltNews, a mob is seen entering the St Joseph School as they shout slogans like “Jai Shree Ram” and “Bharat Mata Ki Jai”.
The police have detained four persons in connection with the vandalism, Madhya Pradesh Home Minister Narottam Mishra said. He added that directions have been given to ensure that such incidents are not repeated.
Mishra said that the nature of the incident in Vidisha was “a little different” from the matter of alleged foreign funding for religious conversions. He , however, added that all places that are involved in such foreign funding, including the Popular Front of India and some non-governmental organisations, are being investigated.
The rioting took place when Class 12 students were taking a mathematics exam, NDTV reported. Several students have requested a re-examination as their concentration was disrupted by the chaos on the campus.
However, Madhya Pradesh Vishwa Hindu Parishad office-bearer Nilesh Agrawal claimed that the protests were peaceful, PTI reported. “Several organisations have been protesting since the past one week against the [religious] conversion and demanding an investigation,” he said. “Poor students brought from other states are being converted.”
The members of Vishwa Hindu Parishad said that following their protest, they submitted a memorandum to the local administration, alleging that the school and its associate church had forcefully converted eight students to Christianity.
In the memorandum, which was also backed by the Bajrang Dal and the Hindu Jagran Manch, the Hindutva organisations claimed that students were discouraged from applying tilaks on their foreheads or wearing kalwas, a thread worn by Hindus around their wrists. The outfits also said that students were forced to say Christian prayers.
The school and the Church organisation that runs runs it have denied the allegations, PTI reported.
In the letter to the district collector, the church blamed local YouTube channels for spreading rumours regarding religious conversion and creating communal tension.
The school has also requested police protection for its staff members and students.