India: schools stay closed after vandals attack convent

 Catholic schools in Lucknow, northern India, remained closed on Monday as a mark of protest against the vandalism by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) activists at a leading convent school. The BJP activists had stormed into the premises of Loreto Convent School on Sunday, damaging, ransacking property and intimidating the nuns living on the campus. "We chose to lodge our protest only through peaceful means. We therefore decided to keep all Catholic schools in Lucknow closed today," Father Paul Rodrigues, secretary Uttar Pradesh Catholic Educational Institutions Association, said on Monday. "We firmly believe in peace and would wish that others should let us live in peace," he said. Expressing satisfaction over the arrest of three of the culprits on Sunday, he said: "We want the others involved in the violence to be arrested too and hope the administration will take adequate steps to ensure the safety of our minority institutions." Meanwhile, some students of Loreto Convent gathered in the school campus to demonstrate their support for the school authorities. "The school principal and authorities did nothing against the interests of the students. No one is ever compelled by the school to participate in religious activities. We feel that some vested interests are out to tarnish the image of the school by spreading false stories about the institution," said Varalika Srivastava, a Class 11 student. Source: AR

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