Kolhapur (Agenzia Fides) - Young activists of the "Yuva Sena" group, the youth wing of the Hindu nationalist organization "Shiv Sena", have committed vandalism in the office of the Holy Cross High School, a Catholic institute for girls in the city of Kolhapur, in the south of the state of Maharashtra. According to what the direction of the school, run by the Congregation of the Sisters of the Cross of Chavanod reported to Agenzia Fides, the incident occurred at 1.30 pm (local time) on January 22, during the school hours. A group of about 20 young violent activists broke into the school office, damaging furniture and computers. "They entered the campus with force, shouting slogans against the direction of the school and looted the office, while the nuns, frightened and disoriented, the students and the teachers were astonished and helpless" said to Fides Sr. Bharati, headmistress of the school.
"They started mistreating staff members, and when I asked them to stay calm and discuss the matter peacefully, they started to wreak havoc in the office, damaging even the religious items like the statues and the cross that were in the office", says Sister Bharati. "The attack was so sudden and atrocious, that the students were trembling with fear and are still in shock, we could not do anything except to observe", added the religious.
After a complaint presented by the school, the police in Kolhapur identified and arrested two people, while another 18 are fugitives. The school will remain closed until the vandals are arrested and adequate security and surveillance of the institution are provided. The Christians of Kolhapur and the parents of the female students have organized protests and sent a memorandum to the police, demanding protection for the city's Christian institutions and churches. "We condemn the act of vandalism and also condemn the assembly of members of the State of Shiv Sena, who supported the violent militants. We are concerned about the safety of our children" the parents declare in their memorandum.
The Bishop of Pune, Mgr. Thomas Dabre, expressed "concern" about the incident. "All the institutions run by the Church are meant to serve the people, especially the poor and the marginalized, we stand by our Sisters of the Holy Cross High School and offer them our full support", said Bishop Dabre. Archbishop Peter Machado of Bangalore also condemned the act of vandalism, saying that issues related to Hindu extremism will be discussed in the assembly of the Indian Bishops Conference under way in Bangalore.
The Catholic Church in India manages more than 50,000 educational institutions, including 400 colleges, six universities and six medical schools that carry out their educational mission with the utmost commitment and seriousness, appreciated by the institutions and by the majority of the population. (SD) (Agenzia Fides, 24/01/2019)