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Right-wing mob attacks MP school alleging religious conversion of students

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Right-wing mob attacks MP school alleging religious conversion of students
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Members of Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Bajrang Dal vandalised the premises of St Joseph School in Madhya Pradesh on Monday. | Screengrab/Mohammed Zubair via Twitter

Vidisha: Workers of the right-wing group Bajrang Dal allegedly created a ruckus and indulged in vandalism at a missionary school in Madhya Pradesh on Monday, claiming religious conversion of eight students to Christianity.

The violence took place while the students of Class 12 from Saint Joseph School in Ganjbasoda were sitting for a mathematics exam.

The school has however denied charges of religious conversion.

The Madhya Pradesh police have registered a case of rioting against unidentified persons under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), Sub-Divisional Officer of Police (SDOP) Bharat Bhushan Sharma said.

The accused are being identified and further legal steps will be taken accordingly, he said. Sharma said the school's property was damaged.

Cellphone footage showed a huge crowd outside the building, raising slogans against the school administration. The police were seen trying to disperse the crowd. The students and the school staff present had a narrow escape.

The manager of the school, Brother Antony, has claimed that he received the information of the attack a day earlier through local media, after which he alerted the police and the state administration. He accused the police of not making proper security arrangements.

He also denied the claims of religious conversion, claiming that none of the names mentioned in the complaint matches with any of the students.

The leader of the local Bajrang Dal unit, Nilesh Agrawal, demanded a thorough probe into the alleged religious conversion. "If the school's involvement is found, it should be bulldozed," he said.

In a letter to the district collector on Sunday, the Saint Joseph Church, however, denied all allegations of religious conversion and claimed rituals which were performed on eight Christian children were like 'Janeu Sanskar' in Hinduism (related to wearing a white, sacred thread) on October 30.

The church also called for an investigation to find out the truth. In the letter, the church accused some local YouTube channels of spreading false news of religious conversion and creating communal tension, and demanded penal action against them.

Security arrangements were made at other missionary schools in the area after the incident.

The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights had earlier written to the Vidisha district collector, seeking a probe into the allegations against the school.

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