04/02/2019, 17.02
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Some 200 Hindu radicals beat nuns, devastate Catholic school in Tamil Nadu

by Nirmala Carvalho

Members of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh destroyed the Little Flower Higher Secondary School in Chinnasalem. Damages total US$ 145,000. Some women tried to strangle the nuns.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) – A mob of Hindu radicals devastated a Catholic school in Tamil Nadu and tried to strangle some of the teaching nuns. Their fury was sparked by the suicide of a 15-year-old girl, disappointed by her bad school results.

"It is evident that the violence unleashed against the school and the destruction inflicted were premeditated and organised," said Sister Devaseer Mary. "The criminals wanted to strike at the nuns".

Sister Devaseer Mary is the provincial superior of the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, who run the Little Flower Higher Secondary School in Chinnasalem, about 260 kilometres south-west of Chennai (Madras), the capital of the State of Tamil Nadu.

In an official statement released following the incident, the superior explains that the school was founded 74 years ago to provide an education to the children of poor families.

At present, it has 2,150 students, including 117 very poor girls from neighbouring villages who are housed in the school hostel.

Over the years, more than 45,000 students, boys and girls, have attended the school. All of them, regardless of ethnicity or religious beliefs, received a quality education, enabling them to have a dignified life and find their place in society.

The attack follows the suicide of Poongulazhi, a 10th grade student. On 25 March, the young woman took her life in her village of Kallakurichi, not far from the high school she attended. The parents told the authorities that they did not find any farewell messages.

The next day the parents, accompanied by 200 members of the ultra-nationalist Hindu paramilitary group Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), attacked the school and the nuns.

The whole building was devastated: classrooms, desks, windows, auditoriums. The attackers did not spare the chapel, which was turned upside down, the statue of Our Lady decapitated, the altar smashed. A group of women even tried to strip the nuns and strangle them with their rosary beads.

The damages to the school are estimated to be around 10 million rupees (US$ 145,000). The Council of Tamil Nadu bishops condemned the incident, calling on the government to immediately launch an investigation, take action against the guilty and protect the sisters and the school.

For Sister Mary, "It is really painful and shocking that after carrying out murderous attacks on persons and causing deliberate destruction to the properties, the gangsters came along with the police to demand enhanced compensation which is not justifiable. It is a very cruel act which expresses their violent mindset.”

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