Bangalore (AsiaNews) – Brother Philip Noronha (pictured), vice principal of Holy Cross School in Whitefield, a suburb of Bangalore (Karnataka), was dragged from the bus in which he was travelling and taken back to his school where a mob of some 500 people, many wearing a saffron scarf, was waiting for him. Here, in the presence of TV cameras from three local TV stations, he was beaten and severely bruised. Whitefield police inspector B N Gopalakrishna was among the people assaulting him as cameras taped the incident. According to Br Philip’s attackers, the Catholic religious used “suggestive” language and misbehaved with female students.
Speaking to AsiaNews, Brother Sesuraj S, Provincial Superior for the Holy Cross Brothers, said that his fellow religious was “totally innocent”. He accuses those who led to mob of planning the attack to destroy the school’s good name in order to seize some of its property.
Last Saturday, Br Philip was on bus travelling to the city. The bus was intercepted near Big Bazar on Old Madras Road by a small van whose occupants seized the brother and brought him back to the school. During the trip, he was beaten, verbally assaulted with accusations of molesting girls and using “suggestive” language.
According to Br Sesuraj, one of the attackers threatened Br Philip of more violence if “the school did not stop renovating the structure and pursuing litigation over property” with its neighbours.
At the school, a mob of nearly 500 people was waiting. They were all worked up. Camera operators from thee Kannada-language TV stations were already there. As the cameras rolled, Br Philips was dragged into his office, where members of the mob indiscriminately beat him.
Br Philip is currently recuperating at Vaidehi Hospital in Whitefield, under shock. He has suffered several bruises on his face and is finding it extremely difficult to talk and eat.
After much prodding, police reluctantly filed a First Information Report (FIR) on the incident. It is alleged that the parents of two 10th grade students orchestrated the attack. One of them runs a school not far from Holy Cross School but has a daughter in the Catholic institution.
In the FIR, Br Philip mentioned one M G Reddy. “While going in the car M G Reddy and the three others even threatened to kill me if I took too much interest in the school. He also threatened that if I took too much interest in the property litigation and blocked the way, they would not spare me.”
The authorities of a temple that is coming up close to the school have been demanding a road through the school property for quite some time now. Br Philip, after he was appointed to the Holy Cross School community, refused to yield to such pressure tactics. School sources said that this could be one of the reasons behind the assault against him.