In the last few years, an increasing number of incidents are being reported against individuals from the religious minorities employing myriad number of tactics to convert Hindus. On a daily basis, a number of reports surface on social media, based upon which cases are filed against Christians and Muslims, their gatherings and meetings are interrupted, and churches and mosques are demolished.
Last week, a video of one such incident had surfaced on social media, in which a Christian principal of a school in Pune was being thrashed by a mob for purportedly forcing students to recite Christian prayers and for having installed CCTVs in the girls’ toilet.
The said incident had took place on July 4. It is essential to note that while reports were suggesting that Alexander Coates Reed, principal of DY Patil High School in Talegaon, was being assaulted for installing “cameras in the Girl’s washrooms”, the mob thrashing him were members of the Bajrang Dal, among others, raising chants of “Har Har Mahadev”. It was reported that soon after the incident, a police complaint was filed by by a parent at the Talegaon MIDC police station. The police had also clarified that during the initial investigation, no evidence of students being forced to “recite Christian prayers” was found, and the said CCTVs had not been installed inside the toilets but in the common areas near the wash basins in both the girls’ and boys’ washrooms.
Now, a report by the Newslaundry has revealed that the complainant in the aforementioned matter, the parent of a Class 8 student, stated that the religious allegations are “rubbish”. Instead, she said that she was upset about the CCTVs, her daughter once receiving a “punishment”, and the staff being “rude” to her when she complained about it.
As per the copy of the complaint filed with the police station, accessed by the Newslaundry, the following allegations have been made against the principal: “Biblical prayers are recited in school, Hindu festivals are not celebrated and students are repeatedly said to not follow the act as per Hindu traditions. If any parent talks about this issue, their wards are harassed…but the most condemnable act is the installation of CCTV cameras in ladies’ washroom.”
When the complainant was contacted by Newslaundry, she clearly provided that she was “upset” about her daughter being punished by teachers, and the principal “supporting” the teachers. She alleged that in June, her daughter and other students were asked by a teacher to “rearrange some benches” as a punishment. She further provided that she had planned to go to the school on July 4 with other parents to complain, but the parent had no issues about “religious” concerns at the school. She did not provide a clear answer, or was herself confused, about how the Bajrang Dal got involved.
A contrasting statement was provided by Nitin Mahajan, coordinator of the Bajrang Dal in western Maharashtra, to Newslaundry, who had stated that that the parent had approached his group on July 1 with a “complaint”, and then asked them to accompany her to the school on July 4.
As provided in the report, Mahajan stated that “DY Patil High School is operated by a Christian principal, Alexander. There are also 2-4 Christian teachers and one Muslim teacher. The parent said during free time, teachers would tell students how Hindus are different from Christians. Morning prayers were from the Bible. We don’t have a problem with that, in fact they should do prayers of all religions. But then they started telling students to go to church. They gave more marks to students who went to church.” It is essential to note that none of these allegations could be proved. Mahajan further said the parent told him that students who didn’t comply were “targeted” and “subject to punishments”. The abovementioned claims allegedly made by the parent while speaking to the Bajrang Dal coordinator were deemed enough for them to destroy the reputation of a principal by chasing him around his own school, beating him, tearing his shirt, raising false allegations of conversion and releasing the said video.
What stands out from this incident is the presence of the Bajrang Dal at the school premise even though the complainant (parent) did not once mention approaching the Bajrang Dal and how this incident escalated and took a communal turn.