Hindu hardliners attack Indian Christian schools


Archbishop in Madhya Pradesh accuses militants of trying to impose their own distorted view of nationalism on others

Hindu hardliners attack Indian Christian schools

Police question young Hindus outside St. Mary’s College in Madhya Pradesh state on Jan. 4 after they tried to stage a nationalistic ritual inside the Catholic college. (Photo provided)

Hindu hardliners have stepped up intimidation of Christian educational institutions in India, not least Catholic colleges.

In one recent case, sheer numbers were used to break through a security cordon with the aim of performing a nationalistic ritual.

Braving wintry early January winds, armed police guarded St. Mary’s College in Vidisha of Madhya Pradesh state in central India.

Some 800 young Hindu men entered the campus, some by scaling walls, but police managed to stop them performing a purportedly patriotic ritual in front of students.

The Bharat Mata Aarti ritual can entail a personification of Mother India represented by the Hindu goddess Durga.

However, Archbishop Leo Cornelio, head of the Catholic Church in the troubled state, said the attempt really had nothing to do with patriotism.

Attempts to discredit church institutions were aimed at gaining control over them, he warned.

The archbishop noted that Catholic schools and colleges run on secular lines are allowed under the nation’s constitution.

“No one can take that right from us,” Archbishop Cornelio said.

Hindu militants were trying to impose their own distorted version of nationalism on others in order to create social rifts for political gain, he told ucanews.com.

On Jan. 16, nearly 200 police stood guard at St. Joseph Convent School in Ratlam district of Madhya Pradesh in the face of threatened protest action.

Hindu activists had accused the school of suspending students for chanting the patriotic slogan “Bharat Mata Ki Jai” (Hail Mother India).

The school maintained that the students were only asked not to chant slogans in an inappropriate manner and had not been barred from attending classes.

In recent months there have been a series of attacks on Christian schools across northern India as well as those in the central region.

Christian leaders see the trend as part of a Hindu strategy to portray Christians as lawbreakers who do not respect Indian traditions.

Militants have alleged that Hindu students, who are a majority at church-run schools, are not able to worship the goddess of learning, Saraswati.

G.S. Markam, a leader of indigenous minority people in Madhya Pradesh, said Christians constitute soft targets in divisive communal politics.

He said hard-line groups sought to split Christians and non-Christians to ensure that upper-caste Hindus continue to live in luxury.

Hindu groups, guided by their umbrella organization RSS or Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (National Volunteer Corps), sought total Hindu domination, he said.

The RSS is the ideological mentor of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which rules most northern Indian states, including Madhya Pradesh, as well as nationally.

The BJP has been accused of endorsing various pro-Hindu fanatics.

Fight to block empowerment of poor

Bishop Anthony Chirayath of the Syro-Malabar Eastern Catholic Church said Hindu hardliners do not believe in equal treatment for poor tribal people or Dalits, formerly known as untouchables.

So they sought to destroy or tarnish the image of educational institutions that increased awareness of the needs of the poor, he added.

The Catholic Church runs nearly 15,000 colleges and schools in India, more than 40 percent of the total provided by all Christian denominations.

Christians are also widely engaged in the provision of medical services and social welfare.

“If these institutions are tarnished, Christians can be tainted,” Bishop Chirayath explained.

An ecumenical forum called Persecution Relief says that 736 hate crimes were recorded against Christians in India in 2017.

Christian institutions were targeted in at least 10 percent of these cases, said the forum’s founder, Shibu Thomas.

Hindu fundamentalists had been working to “grab land” and other property from various church groups, Thomas added.

Another trend was for “fringe elements” to gain publicity by attacking Christians in order to advance their state or national political ambitions.

Thomas complained that hooligans masquerading as patriots are protected by law enforcement agencies when they demonize minority religions.


  1. Balochistan Chief Minister Abdul Quddus Bizenjo has said that the provincial government will not let any injustice befall minorities as they have always rendered their services for the development and prosperity of the province.Contrary to that Minority Christians, Muslims and minorities constantly victimized By Shivasena/Hindutva and some ultra radicals demeaning a great nation like India. I request the following parties and their leadership to rise against it and make this great nation free from this narrow radical mentality:
    6 Indian National Congress 1885 Rahul Gandhi
    7 Nationalist Congress Party 1999 Sharad Pawar
    8. Aam Aadmi Party AAP 2012 Arvind Kejriwal Delhi, Punjab, Goa Broom
    10. All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam AIADMK 1972 Tamil Nadu, Puducherry Two leaves
    11’ All India Forward Bloc AIFB 1939 Debabrata Biswas West Bengal Lion
    12 All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen AIMIM 1927 Asaduddin Owaisi Telangana Kite
    13 All India N.R. Congress AINRC 2011 N. Rangasamy Puducherry Jug
    14 All India United Democratic Front AIUDF 2004 Badruddin Ajmal Assam Lock and key
    15 All Jharkhand Students Union AJSU 1986 Sudesh Mahto Jharkhand Banana
    15 Asom Gana Parishad AGP 1985 Atul Bora Assam Elephant
    16. Biju Janata Dal BJD 1997 Naveen Patnaik Odisha Conch
    17. Bodoland People’s Front BPF 1985 Hagrama Mohilary Assam Nangal
    18 Pattali Makkal Katchi PMK 1989 G. K. Mani Tamil Nadu, Puducherry Mango
    19 Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam DMK 1949 M. Karunanidhi Tamil Nadu, Puducherry Rising sun
    20 Goa Forward Party GFP 2016 Vijai Sardesai Goa Coconut
    21 Hill State People’s Democratic Party HSPDP 1968 H.S. Lyngdoh Meghalaya Lion
    22 Indian National Lok Dal INLD 1999 Om Prakash Chautala Haryana Spectacles
    23 Indian Union Muslim League IUML 1948 Panakkad Sayed Hyderali Shihab Thangal Kerala Ladder
    24 Jammu & Kashmir National Conference JKNC 1932 Omar Abdullah Jammu & Kashmir Plough

    25 Jammu and Kashmir People’s Democratic Party JKPDP 1998 Mehbooba Mufti Jammu & Kashmir Inkpot and pen
    26 Janata Dal (Secular) JD(S) 1999 H.D. Deve Gowda Karnataka, Kerala Lady farmer carrying paddy on her head
    27 Janata Dal (United) JD(U) 1999 Nitish Kumar Bihar Arrow
    28 Jharkhand Mukti Morcha JMM 1972 Shibu Soren Jharkhand Bow and arrow
    29 Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (Prajatantrik) JVM(P) 2006 Babu Lal Marandi Jharkhand Comb
    30 Karnataka Janata Paksha KJP 2012 Padmanabha Prasanna Kumar Karnataka symbol not decided yet
    31 Kerala Congress (M) KC(M) 1979 C.F. Thomas Kerala Two leaves
    32 Lok Janshakti Party LJP 2000 Ram Vilas Paswan Bihar Bunglow

    29 Mizo National Front MNF 1959 Pu Zoramthanga Mizoram Star
    30 Mizoram People’s Conference MPC 1972 Pu Lalhmingthanga Mizoram Electric Bulb
    31 Naga People’s Front NPF 2002 Neiphiu Rio Manipur, Nagaland Rooster
    32 National People’s Party NPP 2013 Agatha Sangma Meghalaya, Manipur Book
    33 Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam DMDK 2005 Vijayakanth Tamil Nadu Nagara
    34 Peoples Democratic Alliance PDA Bd. Behring Anal Manipur Crown
    35 People’s Party of Arunachal PPA 1987 Tomo Riba Arunachal Pradesh Maize
    36 Rashtriya Janata Dal RJD 1997 Lalu Prasad Yadav Bihar, Jharkhand Hurricane Lamp
    37 Rashtriya Lok Dal RLD 1996 Ajit Singh Uttar Pradesh Hand pump
    38 Rashtriya Lok Samta Party RLSP 2013 Upendra Kushwaha Bihar Ceiling fan
    39 Revolutionary Socialist Party RSP 1940 T. J. Chandrachoodan Kerala, West Bengal Spade and stoker
    40 Samajwadi Party SP 1992 Akhilesh Yadav Uttar Pradesh Bicycle
    41 Shiromani Akali Dal SAD 1920 Sukhbir Singh Badal Punjab Scale

    42 Telangana Rashtra Samithi TRS 2001 Kalvakuntla Chandrashekar Rao Telangana, Andhra Pradesh Car
    43 Telugu Desam Party TDP 1982 N. Chandra Babu Naidu Andhra Pradesh, Telangana Bicycle
    44 United Democratic Party UDP 1972 Donkupar Roy Meghalaya Drum
    45 YSR Congress Party YSRCP 2011 Y. S. Jaganmohan Reddy Andhra Pradesh, Telangana Ceiling fan

    46 Marxist Forward Bloc MFB 1953 Pratim Chatterjee West Bengal

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