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PM summons police chief after attack on Christian school

PM summons police chief after attack on Christian school

New Delhi: A Christian school was ransacked and burgled here Friday, prompting Prime Minister Narendra Modi to summon Delhi Police chief B.S. Bassi and voice "deep concern" over rising crime in Delhi.

Employees of Holy Child Auxilium School in Vasant Vihar in south Delhi told police that a few CCTV cameras in the premises were damaged, the principal's office was ransacked and Rs.8,000 stolen from a donation box.

An official statement said the prime minister expressed his "deep concern and anguish" to Bassi over increasing incidents in the capital in which churches and Christian institutions have been targeted.

Modi told the police commissioner to speedily investigate the incident.

Delhi Chief Minister-designate Arvind Kejriwal tweeted: "I strongly condemn the attack on Holy Child Auxilium School. These kind of acts will not be tolerated."

Bassi, however, later told the media that Friday's incident was one of theft and not a religious-oriented desecration.

"Our initial inquiry suggested that it was not a case of desecration. It was a case of theft as Rs.8,000 was stolen from a donation box," Bassi said.

Bassi said the culprits damaged some CCTV cameras in the premises of the school but religious articles were not disturbed.

He also police had got the footage of the culprits from CCTV cameras installed outside the school.

The school principal, Sister Lucy John, said later: "This is not a case of vandalism as no religious articles were touched."

She said six CCTV cameras installed inside the corridor were destroyed and those who barged in ransacked all cupboards. She said about Rs.12,000 was missing.

The school, set up in 1970, is run by the Salesian Sisters. It is an English-medium school meant primarily for Christians girls but it admits children from other communities and religions as well.

Leaders of the Christian community said some members of a group have been intentionally targeting the community and that this was the sixth such attack within 11 weeks.

Delhi Catholic Archdiocese spokesperson Father Savarimuthu Sankar claimed that the latest incident too was meant to instil fear among Christians.

He said five churches have been attacked since December 2014.

"We see a clear pattern in all the attacks. Earlier we thought that these attacks have a connection with the Delhi election," said Sankar.

"Now it is clear that this is the handiwork of some fundamentalist group whose motive is to instil fear among the Christian community."

Father Mathew Koyickal of the school told IANS: "The intention of the attackers is to unnerve the Christian community. We demand that the case should be investigated from all angles."

The school was shut Friday following the incident.

Earlier, a few items and a DVD player were stolen from St. Alphonsa's church in Vasant Kunj also in south Delhi Feb 2.

Three people were arrested Jan 15, a day after a church in west Delhi was vandalised.

Earlier in January, a minor fire was reported from a church in Rohini in west Delhi. The Christmas crib outside was charred.

Some unidentified people threw stones at Our Lady of Fatima Forane Church at Jasola in south Delhi in December and broke window panes.

St. Sebastian's Church, a Catholic church at Dilshad Garden in east Delhi, was torched in December. Police confirmed it was a case of arson.

According to the 2011 Census report, Delhi is home to some 130,000 Christians. The Christian population in India is some 24 million.

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