01/15/2018, 17.44
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Hindu radicals against Catholic school in Madhya Pradesh

by Nirmala Carvalho

The St Joseph Convent School in Namli is run by the Sisters of St Joseph of Chambery. After two students were reprimanded because of unruliness, nationalists slammed the nuns for “anti-national” behaviour.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) – A group of radical Hindus staged a protest today against a Catholic school in Madhya Pradesh for reprimanding two unruly students.

The facility in question is the St Joseph Convent School in Namli, Ratlam District. It cautioned two students for singing the Vande Mataram (hymn to Mother Earth), which became famous during the Indian independence movement as a form of non-violent protest against British rule.

The incident provided the Bajrang Dal, the youth wing of the Hindu fundamentalist Vishva Hindu Parishad, with an excuse to accuse the administration, without any proof, of having suspended 20 students for chanting patriotic slogans.

The school is run by the Sisters of St Joseph of Chambery. The two students were caught pestering other students. Contacted by the sisters, the parents of both boys promptly apologised for their inappropriate behaviour.

This morning, Hindu radicals gathered in front of the school, complaining about the nuns’ "anti-national" behaviour. The school rejected the accusations and turned to the police for protection.

In Madhya Pradesh Hindu extremists have targeted Christian institutions for persecution, accusing them of "forced conversions" or acts contrary to the nation’s Hinduness.

Last September the authorities closed a Catholic college in Sagar that had provided hospitality to poor tribal people for 20 years.

Earlier this month, Hindu extremists surrounded a Catholic college complex in Vidisha, demanding that Hindu rituals be performed on its premises. Another protest is set for tomorrow.

Fr Maria Stephen, a local priest, said that "a massive deployment of police forces is expected".

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