India: Militant extremists attack Jesuit school

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A crowd of around 500 militant Hindu extremists vandalised a Jesuit college in the eastern Indian state of Jharkhand last Tuesday, 3 September. Jesuit Fr Thomas Kuzhively, college secretary, said: "One week after the attacks, the St John Berchmans Inter College, in Mundli Tinpahar, remains closed because everything is damaged. No action has yet been taken by the police or the state government."

Fr Thomas said the incident began after a disagreement between students. A crowd came on campus armed with sticks, chains, iron bars, knives and pistols and beat the tribal boys of the Loyola Adivasi hostel.

Two boys were seriously injured. Their lives were saved by the timely intervention of sisters working at the College. Although an ambulance was called, the crowd did not allow the wounded to be taken to the hospital. "Later, they were taken to hospital by police.

The crowd also tried to sexually harass college girls and female staff, said Fr Kuzhively.

Father Nobor Bilung SJ, tried to talk to the crowd, but was hit on the head. None of the staff were able to calm the crowd.

The militants broke windows, damaged exhaust pipes, furnishings, the electrical systems and the audio system. After devastating the boarding school, the crowd went to the hostel building and there too committed acts of vandalism in the building. They also took away the cash held in the office drawers and three cell phones.

Three nuns bravely remained standing in front of the hostel gate to resist the crowd's attempt to climb the stairs where about 200 students were hiding.

Police officers arrived at the site and found the damage and tried to stop the attackers. The crowd of militants also threw stones at the police, injuring some. After four hours of chaos, the crowd dispersed.

The College has filed a complaint that mentions the names of 26 students who led the crowd. They estimate the damage stands at at 1.5 million rupees.

The college has sent appeals to the judicial authorities, the governor and prime minister of the state of Jharkhand, the president of the national commission for human rights and the president of the National Commission for Minorities, calling for immediate action against aggressors. Schools in the region are planning a strike to protest against the attack.

Tags: India, Attack on School, Jesuit College, Jharkhand, Fr Thomas Kuzhively, St John Berchmans College, Mundli Tinpahar

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