MP school attacked while class 12 exam in progress, students write homework in fear, fearful of coming back
For 17-year-old Akshay Toppo, who aspires to be a civil engineer, Monday’s Class 12 math test was one of his most crucial. While taking the exam at St Joseph’s School in Ganj Basoda tehsil in Vidisha district in Madhya Pradesh, men from Bajrang Dal and VHP broke in, accusing the school of converting.
Police had investigated the conversion allegations and found them to be baseless.
Akshay says the teachers closed the classroom, but they couldn’t block out the noise. A few minutes later, as the slogans continued, the teachers began to move the students to another classroom on the first floor of the building.
Siddhi Sharma, who was also giving the exam, said, âWe couldn’t concentrate at all. Fear took hold of us because we didn’t know what was going on outside.
Akshay worries he messed up his math homework and says he wasn’t able to properly prepare for Tuesday’s physical education exam. He says his parents initially didn’t want to send him to school on Tuesday, but did so because of the class 12 exam. âThey asked me to get into the building quickly. school and stay indoors, without going out for any reason. But we are all very scared.
The school remained closed on Tuesday except for students whose exams were scheduled, principal Anthony Tynumkal said.
About 300 people gathered outside St Joseph’s high school to protest on Monday. The crowd quickly turned violent and forcibly entered the premises and damaged property. Tynumkal told The Indian Express that the crowd was armed with iron bars and stones.
Tynumkal said police had played down his request for protection. âThey assured us that the crowd would shout only a few slogans and disperse peacefully, but that they would send a few menâ¦ The police did not come until after the thugs had left.
Ganj Basoda tehsil’s sub-divisional police officer Bharat Bhushan said they had taken “swift action” and kept the school safe. He added: âIt was going to be a peaceful demonstrationâ¦ A few criminals took the opportunity and threw stones, damaging windows.
Akshay says it was around 11:30 am that they “heard loud noises of men shouting ‘Jai Shri Ram”. “It was so loud we could hear them slam the door and then suddenly stones came flying inside the classroom.”
Police arrested four people, charged with rioting and mischief, and said they scanned CCTV footage to focus on the others.
Bhushan said the Vidisha SP and the district magistrate visited the school to take stock of the situation.
Established 11 years ago, St Joseph’s school is run by the Malabar Missionary Society, based in Bhopal. The school has around 1,500 students, the majority of whom are non-Christians.
VHP leader Neelesh Aggarwal, who led the protest at the school, claimed that a media report said eight Hindu girls were converted at the school on October 31.
Tynumkal denied this, saying the school did not hold Holy Communion for its Christian students until October 31. âA video of this event was posted on YouTube, falsely implying that the students were being converted. None of the students attending the event even study at school, âhe said.
Bhushan said they looked at the conversion complaint and found it to be without merit and the video was fake.