A mob of over 60 Hindu activists attacked two Christian schools in the city of Hazaribagh, in India’s north-eastern Jharkhand state, on 21 April. Carrying flags and shouting slogans, they demanded to know why the schools did not have a statue of Saraswati, Hindu god of learning, or a picture of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Storming one of the schools, “they kicked open doors … and demanded that the school be emptied in 15 minutes,” said the Principal. “By then, our children had started crying in classrooms.” The school was forced to close for the rest of the day and send the pupils home. The mob then moved on to another Christian school just down the road, again demanding that the school close.
The men, from the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) student wing of the ruling Hindu nationalist BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party), “broke open the gate and jumped off the boundary wall to get inside one school,” said police deputy superintendent Arvind Kumar Singh. According to eyewitnesses, police watched the incident without intervening. Local authorities later arrested 16 people in connection with the attack.
Sajan K George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), explained that, “for centuries, the Christian educational institutions have served nation building and are the most sought after for their quality education as well as character building and inculcating of value systems for holistic development. These fringe groups target the Christian institutions also because they serve the poor and marginalised and empower them with education, thus giving them dignity and development and progress.”
In Bastar district, Chhattisgarh state, some Christian teachers have been told that they must adopt the Hindu title archarya, meaning “tutor”, and place images of Hindu gods in Christian schools.