Radical Hindutva nationalists vandalised a missionary school in Vidisha district, Madhya Pradesh on 6 December, alleging that the school was involved in unlawful conversions to Christianity.
The extremists forced their way into the school in Gani Basoda, throwing stones to shatter windows and uprooting signs. Four of the perpetrators have been arrested, though authorities have reiterated their intention to crack down on unlawful conversions.
At the time some students were sitting an examination that had to be abandoned and the room evacuated. No students were injured in the incident.
The school’s manager, Mr Antony, said that he had been notified of a likely attack through local media and informed the police. He denied that any conversions had taken place.
Despite this, Nilesh Agrawal, a local Bajrang Dal leader, called for a thorough investigation into the alleged religious conversion. “If the school’s involvement is found, it should be bulldozed,” he said.
Members of Bajrang Dal and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, both radical Hindutva groups, had asked permission to stage a protest against the school in response to alleged religious conversion, the police said.
“On Monday, people handed over a memorandum to the sub-divisional magistrate and later, the mob turned violent and pelted the school premises with stones,” said Bharat Bhushan Sharma, sub-divisional officer of police.
Narottam Mishra, the state’s home minister, said that a case of rioting has been lodged by police against those responsible for Monday’s incident and four persons have been detained. However, he affirmed the intention to carry out chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s directive to identify and take action against foreign-funded NGOs allegedly seeking converts through unlawful methods.
Madhya Pradesh is one of nine Indian states to have enacted laws criminalising religious conversions through force, fraud or allurement.
In November, pastors in Madhya Pradesh reported that they have been forced to start documenting the names of Christians attending church services in order to protect themselves against false allegations of illegal religious conversions. Churches in the Jhabua district of the state have complained of being compelled to cancel services owing to a crackdown on allegedly unlawful conversion activities.