Stones pelted at Christian schools, churches in Madhya Pradesh (Lead)

August 29th, 2008 - 8:28 pm ICT by IANS  

Bhopal, Aug 29 (IANS) A group of people Friday pelted stones at a few Christian schools and churches in Madhya Pradesh’s Gwalior district. The educational institutions were closed at the time of the incident as part of the nationwide protest over violence against the community in Orissa.”While all Christian schools and colleges in Madhya Pradesh remained closed Friday in protest, a group of people pelted stones at Carmel Convent School, St. Theressa School and Church and St. Paul’s Church in Gwalior,” said V.K. Suryavanshi, superintendent of police.

“However, no major loss occurred, except minor damage to the vehicles parked inside the campus of the schools,” he said.

No other untoward incident has so far been reported from any part of Madhya Pradesh, the police said.

“The Bishop’s Conference of India has given the all-India call for closure of missionary organisations and we have supported this call,” said Anand Muttungal, spokesman of Madhya Pradesh Bishop’s Council.

“All missionary schools and colleges in the state capital also remained closed, barring the B.S.S.S. College where the process of nomination of students’ council is underway,” said Anand.

There are about 1,000 missionary organisations, including schools and colleges, in the state.

“It is not Orissa alone where the community is being subjected to violence. Christians have been increasingly under attack by the fundamentalists in Madhya Pradesh on the false and fabricated charge of alluring people, mainly tribals and those belonging to lower castes,” said Indira Iyengar, Madhya Pradesh-Chhattisgarh Christian Forum president.

There have been over 150 major incidents of violence against the Christians in the state since the Bharatiya Janata Party came to power in 2003. This year there have 35 incidents of atrocities, said Muttungal.

The forum has written to President Pratibha Patil drawing her attention to the ongoing violence in Orissa and sought her intervention.

Expressing concern over the situation, the forum said that Christians have been targeted once again, after a similar wave of violence last year.

They have charged the police with failing to protect Christians and have urged the president to send the army or central security forces to the state to curb violence.

Already the Christians of Kandhamal are nursing the wounds of the last year’s violence and hundreds are living in refugee camp at Barakham, yet Sangh leaders targeted the community, the letter says.

“The Christian leadership in the country also unequivocally condemns the killing of VHP leader and his four associates,” wrote Iyengar.

Christian educational institutions, numbering about 45,000 in the country, would remain closed to condemn the attack and demand an inquiry into the incidents, community leaders said.

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