Mob assaults Indian school principal over ‘Christian prayer’


The complaint and attack came six years after the school followed a ‘common prayer,’ which has the word ‘Dear Lord’ in it

Mob assaults Indian school principal over ‘Christian prayer’

Supporters from Hindu organizations Vishva Hindu Parishad and Bajrang Dal, shout slogans as they hold tridents during the distribution of tridents’ event in Ahmedabad on Jan. 22. (Photo: AFP)

July 07, 2023

A mob of suspected Hindu activists has attacked a Christian principal of a private co-educational high school in the western Indian state of Maharashtra over claims that his students were asked to recite a Christian prayer.

A group of agitated parents, accompanied by suspected activists of the hardline Hindu organizations, Vishva Hindu Parishad and Bajrang Dal, assaulted the principal Alexander Reid of the D. Y. Patil High School on July 4 at Ambi village in Talegaon Dabhade on the outskirts of Pune city.

A video went viral on July 5, showing Reid being brutally beaten up by a mob screaming “Har Har Mahadev” (hail Lord Shiva). The video showed the mob chanting slogans as they chased and attacked the principal as he ran from them on the school campus with his clothes torn.

Talegaon Dabhade police inspector Ranjit Sawant told UCA News on July 7 that neither the school nor the principal has lodged any complaint against the people who assaulted the principal.

“Only some parents have given us a complaint against the principal and we have not yet filed a case against anyone,” Sawant told UCA News.

Sawant said the police were investigating the incident. “We will take preventive action against those who assaulted the principal,” he added.

The police officer said what is referred to as Christian prayer is “just a common prayer, which has the word ‘Dear Lord’ in it. It is even mentioned in the school diary carried by the students. But that does not refer to a Christian god,” Sawant said.

The parents said prayer was taken from the Bible. But there is nothing in the prayer from the Bible, the police officer said.

In their complaint to the police, some parents have also alleged that the school has installed a CCTV camera in the girls’ washroom.

“The CCTV camera is not inside any washroom. It is installed in the common area of the washroom, near the wash basin,” Sawant said.

He said some parents and activists of VHP, Bajrang Dal and a local Hindu group entered the school premises to check if the CCTV was indeed installed in the girls’ washroom.

“When they saw the principal, they assaulted him and tore his clothes,” Sawant said.

The school has on its rolls 1,341 boys and girls from nursery to grade 12. It is now closed until further notice.

Calls to the school remained unattended and there was no response from its officials.

The Free Press Journal newspaper quoted Reid as saying that he is innocent.

“The management is on my side, they have asked me to hold on for a couple of days before saying anything about the matter. They will take care of me, I have nothing to fear.”

He told the daily that he did not complain against the assaulters because “I am not that kind of person to go against my own people. I am very positive about this matter.”

He said he is the founder principal of the school, which he began six years ago.

“Why should this matter crop up now?” he asked.