A Report attacks on Christian institutions at Kosi-Kalan, Mathura, & Agra

PUCL press release

India has been melting pot for many communities and people from different faiths. In modern time the need and value of co existence and tolerance is felt more than ever. The touchstone of Democracy is seen from way the minorities are treated by the majority community. The Constitution of India provides for pluralism. During past two years there has been a spate on attack on minorities. Concerned at the recurring news of attacks on academic institution and their leading personnel, all belonging to a particular minority community in a state having a BJP Government (UP). A Joint study team was constituted consisting of the following members: Adv. Tejinder Singh Ahuja (Chairperson, Human Rights trust); Adv. Mary Scaria (Coordinator, Peace and Justice Commission); Mr. Satyendra Ranjan (Correspondent Jansatta, and member Executive, People's Union for Civil Liberties, Delhi State); Dr. John Chathnattu (Scholar & Member Executive, Insaani Ekta Muhim); Mr. Joseph Gathia (Human Rights Activists and Chairperson Centre for Concern for Child labour); Dr. Aurobindo Ghose (Convenor Insaani Ekta Muhim & General Secretary People's Rights Organisation). The team visited Kosi Kalan, Mathura, & Agra on April 19th & 20th and interviewed the victims as well as members of the public, and Government officials. Where ever the team could not meet the victims in their place of work they were interviewed in Delhi in the Hospitals or institutions where they were convalescing.

The purpose of study was to compile and collect facts and findings from 1st Jan to 15th April. Specifically to look at the incidents at:

Narration of the incidents

March 31.3.2000 Incidents at Sacred Heart School, Mathura:

The team members met sister Paullina and other sisters of the Sacred Heart Convent in the residential quarters just opposite the school. The building, a double story structure, looked more like a fortress and inspite of the terrible heat was totally closed from all sides. The total coverage of the balcony on the first floor with an iron grill spoke volumes about the tremendous amount of feeling of insecurity amongst the inmates. After banging ad knocking on the iron grill gate outside the house, which was locked from inside, and calling out by the Chowkidar and police officials the team members heard a female voice from outside inquiring as to who they were and what they wanted. After the inmates were informed by the team members about the purpose of their visit, they had to wait for another ten minutes while the inmates confirmed regarding the team members from the references.

Once inside, the team members discussed the matter with Sister Paullina and other sisters who had witnessed the events in the convent and the school. The team members were informed that the school had been functioning in Mathura for the last about the 42 years and enjoyed not only a good relationship with the residents of Mathura but was one of the extremely respected schools admission to which was considered a matter of privilege. The team members were told that there had been no problem of any nature before the 31st March 2000. For the first time, events started taking place from 31st March 2000. The sequence of events since then is as under:

31st March 2000 - The results of the school had been put up. Out of about 1700 students about 50 - 80 students had been detained. Some of the parents whose children had been detained started shouting slogans and threatening that they would burn the school.

3rd April 2000 - Morning-There were rumors afloat that people would be collecting at the school and there would be a dharna. About 40- 50 parents in an agitated state packed the office room and wanted to meet the Principal. They were informed that the Principal was not available, as she was out of station. At this the mob started raising slogans. The police was informed on telephoned. By the time the police reached the mob had already left threatening that they would come again.

3rd April 2000 - 7.30 PM - The sisters went and met the DM who asked them to meet the SDM. The sisters met the SSP and SDM and verbally apprised them of the situation. The SDM assured all help and gave a letter to the Station Officer Naroli. A special messenger, who accompanied the sisters to the police station, delivered the letter. The sisters reached back at about 8.30 PM. The sisters heard some people shouting at the gate at about at about 10. 30, the police had not come till then. The sisters called the police station at 11 pm informing them that some men were at the gate and the police had not yet arrived. The person attending he phone inquired if the people had come inside, the sisters replied in the negative at which the said person responded that the sisters should contact them once the mob came inside. The sisters then telephoned at SDM who contacted the police and at 11. 30 pm two policemen arrived.

5th April 2000 - Leaflets were distributed in and around the school and the Convent in which a number of matters, apart from fee hike, detention of students, were raised. One of the issues raised was that the school was not observing the 15th August and 26th January. This, the team was informed, was totally contrary to the facts.

6th April 2000 - The Principal was in her room talking to a teacher when two neta type persons entered the office. When objected to by the Principal as they had come without appointment, they stated that they did not need an appointment. The Principal told them that she would only meet and speak to them after she had finished her appointment with the teachers, but they were adamant. In the meanwhile a mob had already entered the school compound, and had started entering the Principal's Office. Shortly the Principal's office was full of people some of whom were extremely agitated.

8. 00 AM - Someone phoned the Principal and informed her that he had come to know that the people intended to assault her and that she could close the main door, but by that time the mob was already in the room.

The mob was in an excited state and the Principal told that she would speak to only after taking a round of the school. When the Principal came out to take a round of the School, a group of ten/ fifteen persons started following her. The Principal became panicky and felt that these persons intended to assault her. She quickly ran into a classroom and asked the teacher to continue teaching as if nothing had taken place and she sat at the back and asked two students to stand in front of her. The persons following her were shouting, " where is the principal". They started searching in each of the rooms inquiring about the Principal. The police had been called for and two/ three policemen had reached, but they did nothing to stop these persons. Sister Pauline confronted the mob in the principal's room. One of the persons who came in introduced himself as the Tahsildar. He spoke to the SDM and sister Pauline also spoke to the SDM who stated that he would come to the school. Once sister Pauline was assured that the Principal will not be harmed in any manner, the Principal was called for. After a short while the SDM arrived and a discussion took place, in which it was agreed upon that the people would give their grievances in writing to which the school authorities would gave reply and the next meeting would takes place on the seventeenth.

5.00 pm - A meeting of Principals of various schools was called and held in the school. While the meeting was in progress, the library of the school was stoned and a glass broken.

17th April - A questionnaire has been submitted to the school management, which did not give any names of the persons submitting the same. Two questions out of the same, particularly relevant, were that 15th August and 26th January is celebrated in a dignified manner and the students should not be given education of a particular religion. Please check from the questionnaire.

The discussion took place between the six representatives of parents, SDM, CO, SO and representatives of the school management withdrew the increase in caution money and promised to take up the matter regarding reducing the pass percentage with their head office.


Statement of Sr. Maria Pereira (Principal Sacred Heart School)

31.3.2000, was the day for the results of the Sacred Heart School, Mathura. Due to the very poor performance in the examination, the children of a local Neta, Mr. Chitra Singh, and another Cantonment Board member, Mr. Pareashwar, one in class 8th and the other in seventh, were detained with several other students who didn't do well in the examination. They had failed in five groups out of 6. These leaders requested me to promote their children. They even tried to bribe me when flatly refused to their demands, they threatened to destroy and burn the school office and attack and harass me and the neighboring Christian Schools.

On 3.4.2000, a group of about fifty people forcibly entered the school premises and demanded that the detained students be promoted otherwise, I will have to face dire consequences. I went personally to the DM, SSP., and asked for police protection for the school, but my request fell on deaf ears.

On 6.4.2000: The school started as usual at 7.15 am. At 7.20 am, one of the teachers came to see me. We had just started the conversation when two young men (College students) charged into my office and told me that they wanted to talk to me. The teacher requested them to wait out side since she had made prior appointment with me. They then said they were leaders and they don't need appointment to talk to the Principal. On further request, they left us, and gave us 10 minutes. In the meanwhile, I informed the police for protection again.

The two men entered and questioned me on various topics and I answered them. Then one of them told me, "Sister, we were just sent and we have zero knowledge of the school. Now since we had understood all that we are doing here we will go and explain to the people who are sitting on dharna". They had just left, I got a phone call telling m e to close the school gates since there was going be some danger. Usually I ring the bell but on that day, I got up to tell the servant to do so. When I went near the school office I was shocked to see a mob of 200 men gathered in side the school counter. As soon as they saw me they started shouting slogans in Hindi. "Hum Hindustani hain", "angrezi log chale jao", etc. Then two men were forcing me to go and talk to the mob. I refused to do so and said that I am willing to talk to talk to two representatives from the group. They started forcing me to go back to my office assuring me that it is safe and that no one would harm. Sensing danger I started moving away from the mob. Some of them tried to block me and were trying to force me to go back to my office. I said I had to go for my round to all the classes. Once they realized that I could not be trapped they made some signs and many from the mob joined them. "Principal key sath niklo" When I turned back, I saw 10-15 men running after me. I was just pushed by some inner force in me to class IV. The teacher and the students were shocked and terrified to see me in such a panic and fear. I sat at the back bench putting my head down, made two of the students to stand in front, and requested the teacher to continue teaching and the children to listen to the teaching. At that moment the men came running to the classroom inquiring whether I was there and the teacher said no. I could hear them running and screaming and yelling through the corridor hunting for me. As soon as the staff realized what was happening the male staff came running and put the men out and closed all the gates. Then there was a group of ten men in my office waiting for me. They threatened that if I don't come out and meet them they will destroy the school. I went out and met them.

The first question they asked me was, "Sister, why there is a Bible kept in your office?" "I begin my day by praying the word of God". Then they asked me why don't you keep Quran and Bhagavad Gita here and my answer to them was Sirs, I respect all the religions but believe in Jesus and Bible. Then their question to me was, "Yesterday was the opening day of the school, you read Quran during the prayer service but did not read Bhagavad Gita". Then the teacher who read the Bhagavad Gita for the prayer services responded saying, "I myself read the Gita for the said prayer meeting". Then they accused me saying that I don't celebrate the National holidays, 15th Aug and 26th Jan, by hoisting the national flag and that I am anti-national. I told them, and the teacher also said, that we do and even distribute sweets on that day to the students and that they could enquire from the students themselves. I knew their allegations were baseless and their intention was not clear. From all these I gather that the assault was communal and they were waiting for an occasion to create an atmosphere of fear and terror in the school and vicinity. Further, they insisted the promotion of all the children and gave me a questionnaire, which I had to answer them by 17th of April. They even threatened to attack us at night. We asked for police protection but they did not turn up. When I heard some noise, outside at 11 pm I again rang up the police. The officer who answered the call asked me, "Have the men come in side?" "No", I said. "When the men are inside your room then inform us" was his reply. I was shocked to hear such a callousness of the police. I then rang up to the SDM who immediately sent the police force. On the 17th April, we had a meeting. They are responsible for all the attacks at St. Dominic and St. Theresa's.
We are all still very scared and under tension and a fear psychic has created and we feel terrified.

Today is Good Friday and I really understood what it means to me, or the meaning of good Friday. I feel happy that I had a share of Christ's Passion and suffering. Yes we are all members of the mystical body of Christ. And we are called to witness to passion and death of Jesus through various events and experiences of our daily life. (This was shared by Sr. Maria Perrirea on Good Friday at Masgarh Church at Okhala, Delhi)

Incident at St. Dominic school, Mathura:
St. Dominic School is located at Mathura cantonment near Dhavuli pyaao. It has got about 1200 students. The incident took place on 10th April, Monday, morning. A group of men walked into the office demanding admission for their children. They didn't specify in which class they wanted admission and for how many children. Neither they knew the names of the children to be admitted nor they did they give any other particulars, said Fr. Debre. When it was mentioned that there was no vacancy they started abusing the Father, beat him, and started throwing the furniture all round. Fr. Debre sensing danger slipped through the back door and escaped into his room to protect him. One of the staff members informed the police and they arrived after the miscreants had left the place. The priest has lodged a FIR.

Kosi-Kalan Incident:
Kosi-Kalan is situated about 100 KM from Delhi & 15 km from Mathura. As we arrived at the school campus we sensed an atmosphere of fear and anxiety. Fr. Vargheeze Kunnath, who was the founder Principal of St. Theresa School and the priest in charge of the place at the moment, provided some background and history and explained to us the sequence of events. He arrived at the scene of on 11th April.

St. Theresa school, Kosi Kalan founded in 1994, has classes from KG to classes from Jindal Public School located in the adjacent Jindal Industries campus, has classes from Class V to Class XII. On the basis of an agreement executed in 1995 the Diocesan management of the Catholic Archdiocese of Agra presently runs both the schools.

According to Fr. Varghese, although there had been serious problem so far, Fr K.K. Thomas has received an anonymous letter in December 1999 asking him to close the Church and the school. Besides in 1995 a local delegation from Kosi Kalan comprising mostly from trading and business class had meet the management of Jindal Industries and asked not to hand over the administration of Jindal Public School to "the Christian missionaries". Also in 1993-94 when approached to buy land for the school, the local people were hesitant to sell the land to members of the Christian Community. But once the school was founded and the children from various communities were admitted, life was running normally till December 1999 when Fr. K.K. Thomas received the anonymous letter. But he had not taken it seriously and had forgotten all about it, until the early hours of 11th April 2000.

The team investigated the brutal attacks and beating and infliction of head injuries to Fr. K.K. Thomas, about 45 years of age (Principal of St. Theresa School), and Maria Bakshi about 19 years (working as a maid in the adjacent Sacred Heart Convent). It also investigated the beating of sisters Mary and Gloria, and Ruben, the cook, in the early hours of April 11th.

The Sequence of events

On the basis of our interviews with Fr. K.K. Thomas, recuperating at Holy Family Hospital New Delhi and Fr. Verghese in Kosi-Kalan itself the team reports the incidents as follows.

At about 1.00 AM on April 11, 2000, Fr. K.K. Thomas had woken up on hearing the unusual barking of the dogs. As was his regular Practice, he whistled three or four times for a response from the chowkidar. But there was no response. After half an hour at 1.30 a.m. he whistled again and there was no response. So he went out of the building to look for them. The Chowkidars were missing and he found their blankets at the veranda. As he turned back someone suddenly flashed a powerful torch at his face, and he spotted seven to eight persons coming towards him. Their faces were covered with a cloth and only their eyes were showing. They were wearing and maroon banayaans and shorts. They seem to be in the age group of 20- 25. Sensing danger, Fr. Thomas started running toward his room. But the assailant overpowered him and started beating him mercilessly with wooden sticks (lathis). They beat him discriminatory specially targeting his head. Fr. Thomas repeated pleaded with them "Take whatever you want, but don't harm any of us." But they went on beating him even after he fell, face down. One of them even said, "isko maar daalaa" (killed him).

The assailants would have continued to beat him had not the sisters in the other block raised in the alarm. According to Sr. Mary, "As soon as they heard us they covered Father with a lungi and headed towards us. The door leading to the nun's quarters were broke open with the help of a cement flowerpot and a heavy brownish stone. Sr. Mary rushed to the telephone on the first floor only to find that it has been disconnected. Meanwhile, the maid, miss maid, Miss Maria hearing the noise came down when the assailants numbering about fifteen by now, battered the young maid so badly that she was later admitted to the Holy family Hospital, New Delhi with serious head injuries and body fractures. As the frightened sisters were hide in the bath rooms, the assailants entered their room and shouted at them saying that if you don't came out we will break open the door. As they came out of the bathroom, they too were beaten up. Then one of the assailants said, "ye bahin log hain, inko mat maaro" (they are sisters, don't beat them). Then went around ransacking the sister's quarters, and went even into the prayer room and opened the tabernacle and desecrated it. They took away the cash and other valuables. On their way back the assailants stopped to check on the father make doubly sure that he was dead. One of them lifted one of the legs of the father Thomas and let it one to another felt his pulse and declared that father was dead. "Ye to mar gayaa" (he is dead). Father's helper Ruben over heard this utterance. After this the ground went to father's residence, on the way they met the cook at the door and thrashed him and threatened him, "chup reho varnaa tumhaaraa bhi vahi haal hoga". (Keep quiet, otherwise you will also face the same fate). They broke open the cash box and took away all the cash, his camera, and wristwatch. And destroyed the furniture and ransacked the fridge in the dining room and sat in the courtyard drinking the milk, and cold drink and eating up and whatever was found in the fridge. Only once they left did Ruben courage to call the neighbours who informed the police who were prompt in arriving on the scene of the ghastly incident.

The chowkidar were later found in the field outside in the school premises tried together and gagged. It seems that the dogs had been drugged after having eaten something given by the assailants.

Although the higher echelons of the police and the district administration, including the DM Sri Sanjiv Mittal, IAS, have claimed that the Kosi-Kalan incident was an isolated incident with the motive of robbery, Fr. Varghese disagreed totally with such an assessment. Talking to the team only a weak after the incident, Fr. Varghese raised some vital questions.

The assailants appeared to be knowledgeable about the school premises & the incidents seems to be the end result of meticulous and careful planning. The assailants first put the dogs out of action by drugging them with some food. Then they removed the chawkidars from the scene with minimal use of force, simply by tying them up and gagging and with out beating them. In fact they there was some indication of collusion between one of the chawkidars and assailants' gang. In fact, Fr. Varghese said that they suspected one of the chawkidars and had given the name to the police. It also does not seem that the assailants were having the simple motive of robbery and loot. If their intention was to loot why then they ignored the teachers quarters which could have provided them more money and valuables? Despite Fr. Thomas's request not to beat or harm and to take away all that they wanted, the assailants concentrated on brutally beating Fr. Thomas and that they were satisfied only when they thought that he was no more. Also, they resorted to brutal beating of the house cleaner, Maria, and the sisters, which did not seem to be necessary if robbery was the only motive. There is no rational explanations as to why they left behind other valuable goods such as colour television, VCR, and tape recorder. The motive of robbery also does not explain why a gang of rustic robbers should enter the place of prayer of a convent open the tabernacle and desecrate it.

According to Fr. Varghese the motive seems to be to terrorize the Principal and the staff of the school so much that they would want to wind up school and the Church and leave. The assailants took care to hide their identity and motivation not only covering their faces but also by giving their impression that they were interested in looting the cash and valuables. Fr. Varghese was emphatic that instead of looking at this incident in isolation at Kosi Kalan we should view its as part of the sequences and the chain of the anti-Christian incidents which have occurred in the country over the last two to three years. In Mathura district alone this was the third attack on a Christians, more specially, catholic educational institutions within a fortnight and was a part of the 6 attacks on the Christians within this short period in the adjacent districts of Ghaziabad, Meerut, and Agra in Western UP. Instead of robbery, which may have been a cover, the real intention was to terrorize the Christian community, not those living in UP alone, but also those in other parts of he country. He suddenly recalled the fact when the agitated mob was being dispersed on the 6th April, in a separate incident of attack on another Christian Institution and the nuns, they had shouted that they would not, spare the other Christian institutions in that region.

Fr. Varghese also suggested that the police and the administration seem to have done only lip service. The assailants had plenty of time and they did not seem to be in a hurry hence police protection and police collusion can not be ruled out. Even when the police appeared to have arrived promptly on being informed of the incident, they refused to bring the dog squad as was suggested by the victims at St. Theresa's school. To date not a single arrest has been made. The DIG of Police of UP and the DM of Mathura are consistently saying that the Kosi Kalan incident of 11th April should be viewed as an isolated incident of robbery. It has no communal overtones what so ever, leave alone any connection with the growing trend of well planned attacks on members and institutions belonging to the minority communities particularly the Christian community.

Interview with Archbishop Vincent Concessao, Agra:
The Agra church has been there from the time of Jahangir, the Mughal Emperor. It is also known as Akbar Church. But still the Christians are a miniscule proportion of the population, 0.046% of the total population of the Agra region, i.e., less that one in two thousand.

In October last 1999 the Bajrangdal opposed the Charismatic convention, which was organised by us. A number of people experienced healing. The Bajrangdal raised slogans and said that healing and prayer are all " bakwaas". On the second day, they prevented some people from entering the Convention and misdirected many others to far away locations.

Apart from the serious incidents of attacks on the schools on Mathura and Kosi Kalan, the unlawful detention in police station of two priests from the Cathedral church also needs to be condemned.

In the first week of July '99 Mr. RS Pandey, SHO, Hariparvat, came to St. Peter's College for the admission of this son, as there was a crowd waiting to see Principal the security guard asked him to wait for his turn. Mr. Pandey got annoyed and went away. He returned the following day and straight away bashed up the security guard.
On 8.7.99, there was shoot out at Sanjay Place, Agra in which a certain Pachouri was severely hurt. In the report that appeared in the newspapers, it was mentioned that scooter no UAC 173 was seen being driven away from the scene. It looked like Mr. Pandey had deliberately implicated the Cathedral house in the case as the scooter belonged to the Cathedral House. The paper report clearly indicated that the scooter of the missionaries was used for the above crime. The Bishop further said that they were sure that the scooter was in their premises. Later, the real culprit was found. It took two months to get back the scooter, but without the key!

He said, "On 31st December Ms. Sneha Lata Arora, met me with an application asking for her reinstatement in her job". She had previously been teaching from 1987 to 1992 and she left the job on her own. People had said at that time that she was mentally unfit. The teacher had given up her job on her own and it is the policy of the Institution that once a teacher abandons her employment and does not turn up for three months with out any information or application for leaves, she/he looses lien on the job. She had also sent complaints to higher authorities, like the Joint Director, Education, Agra and the District Magistrate, who requested the "District Shiksha Adhikari, Agra to make an inquiry into the matter and the disposal of the complaint letter of Km Sneha Lata. In compliance with the orders of the Jt. Director, Education and the DM, the Shiksha Adhikari called both the parties at 11 am on 2.2.2000. After having heard both the parties, the Shiksha Adhikari came to the School on 1. 3. 2000 and on 13. 3. 2000 and examined the records and recorded in writing the statements of the teachers. The Shiksha Adhikari found no basis in the complaints made by Km. Sneha Lata. She had also alleged that the manager had sealed her account in the St. Peters College branch of the Canara Bank. In this connection, the Shiksha Adhikari went to the bank, saw the ledger, and found that on 25.3. 2000 an amount of Rs. 10,456.00 was shown as the balance in the account No. 996 in the name of Km Sneha Lata and that she had withdrawn Rs. 500.00 on 7.3.2000 which again was a proof to show that her mental condition was not stable. A copy of the finding by the Shiksha Adhikari is given in the Appendix.

On 31.3.2000 two lady constables, two male constables, and two SI s, along with Sneha Lata, came to the CH, Agra at 2.30 p.m. They asked Fr. Raphy, the manager of the School, to go to the police station to make a statement in connection with a pending case of Sneha Lata. Frs. Raphy and Varghese went to the Police Station. As soon as they reached the Police Station, Mr. Pandey ordered their possessions to be taken charge of and they be put in the lock-up. (A photocopy of the articles having been taken from them at the time of putting them in the lock-up is attached in the Appendix). In the mean time, the above mentioned Sneha Lata was seen writing a complaint dictated by Mr. Pandey! The priests could see very clearly Mr. Pandey, the SHO, dictating the statement to Km. Sneha Lata as they were in the lock up just opposite Mr. Pandey's office.

About 45 minutes later four other priests reached the police station to find out what had happened to the two priests. And they were shown the written complaint of Sneha Lata without any mention of time and witnesses. Meanwhile, Frs. Raphy and Varghese were brought out of lock up. Then Mr. Pandey asked the fathers to prepare a defense of Frs. Raphy, Varghese, and Miranda, all mentioned in the complaint. Further, Mr. Pandey said that one of the priests had to remain in the police station while others could go and prepare the case. Accordingly, Fr. Raphy remained with Fr. Robert in the office for sometime and later was asked to sit in the visitors' room. That day, the Commissioner, Ms. Nita Chowdhary was to come for the inspection of the police station. It looked like that the SHO did not want the Commissioner to know about the locking up of the priests that he released them and \made them to sit in the visitors room just before the routine visit of the Commissioner. Both, Frs. Raphy and Robert stayed in the visitors' room for about 30 minutes. Around 6.30 pm Mr. Pandey released them on condition that Fr. Raphy comes back to the station at 8 pm.

Later at 10 pm Mr. Pandey came to the CH to inquire about Fr. Raphy's residence, telephone no., etc. Ever since, almost every day police come and harass for information one or the other.

The Bishop, who had came to Delhi for some official purpose, was met by the team. Incident at St. Dominic school, Mathura:
St. Dominic School is located at Mathura cantonment near Dhavuli pyaao. It has got about 1200 students. The incident took place on 10th April, Monday, morning. A group of men walked into the office demanding admission for their children. They didn't specify in which class they wanted admission and for how many children. Neither they knew the names of the children to be admitted nor they did they give any other particulars, said Fr. Debre. When it was mentioned that there was no vacancy they started abusing the Father, beat him, and started throwing the furniture all round. Fr. Debre sensing danger slipped through the back door and escaped into his room to protect him. One of the staff members informed the police and they arrived after the miscreants had left the place. The priest has lodged a FIR.
He further informed that on 21.4.2000, between 9 -10 am, a team of police from Hariparvat Thana area came to 16\ 76 Upper Padritola, Ghatia Azam-Khan, Agra and took five men named, Blasius, Sandeep, Denzil alias Pawan, Robin, and Ivan. They forced them to give false evidence against Fr. Varghese who resides in the CH, Agra.

Later these above mentioned men came to Fr. KC Thomas to say that they were given Rs. 100/- each and two pouches liquor and asked to make statement against Fr. Varghese. They were forced to sign on a paper without allowing them to read it or it being read out to them. These men made an affidavit to this effect, a copy of which is placed in the Appendix.
The Bishop further told the team that all these incidents have been causing a lot of tension and anxiety among the priests and religious and Christian community in Agra. He further commented that he was really concerned about the misuse of power by an officer, who is the guardian of law and order, having gone to the extent of concocting stories to pressurize, penalize, and terrorize innocent people. The Bishop also expressed his anxiety on the re instatement of the SHO, Mr. Pandey, while the enquiries about his misconduct were on.


Other recent Attacks in UP:

March 12, 2000: Burglary in Capuchin missionaries run Media Institute of Training and Technology - (MITT ), Parish church, and Shramik Vidyapeeth Vocational Training Centre, Surya Nagar (UP) at the Delhi UP boarder - 24 computers, cash, and sound system were stolen.

March 31: Attack against Capuchin run Christ Vihar Hindi Medium School at Dasna Masuri near Ghaziabad in UP. Fr. Skylark George beaten up and injured, cash and valuables were stolen.

Conclusion:

The team after extensive discussion and debate reached on the following conclusion:

1. That the attacks on the Christian institutions in UP are not isolated attacks but are linked to each and part of an organized conspiracy.
2. The attack on St. Theresa's School, in Kosi Kalan was a part of this conspiracy and the target of the attack was the school Principal.
3. The communal elements are bent upon spoiling the atmosphere in Western UP and the attempting to whip up communal passions whereever the people express any grievances and attempt to exploit the situation.
4. The administrations and police authorities have taken action after the occurrence of the incident but by treating the incidents as ordinary problems of law and order, the administration and police authorities seem to be lacking perspective. Therefore, the culprits of Kosi Kalan have not been identified or arrested till date and the SHO of Hari Parvat Police Station in Agra has been brought back to his original posting at Hari Parvat police station at the intervention of Bajrang Dal and other communal organisations.
5. The team did find evidence of the involvement of Bajrang Dal and other communal organisations. The manner in which a campaign was built up by Bajrang Dal and other communal organisations to bring back SHO Pandey and the attempts that were made to malign the Christian Institutions in the vernacular press points to their sinister designs.
6. All the incidents took place with in a span of 12 days and the schools, which were targeted, had been operating in the concerned areas for a period ranging from 12 to 42 years. They had never been involved in any incident prior to this. This also points to a diabolic design.
7. The manner in which the community which constitutes less than 0.5% in Western UP is being targeted and a venomous atmosphere is being created. It is more than likely to vitiate the entire atmosphere of the region and can lead to a more severe attack on the minority Christian community and its institutions thus bringing severe harm to the secular credentials of the Indian State.
8. There is tremendous amount of fear, insecurity and apprehension in the minds and hearts of Christian Population, and feel harassed, victimized and threatened.

Recommendations:

1. The Central and State Government should express their willingness to protect the minority Christian community not only in words but also in action.
2. As a first step the administration and police authorities should not consider the attacks on the above mentioned institutions as isolated incidents and problems of law and order alone but should recognise them as part of a communal attack and take remedial measures accordingly.
3. The minority institutions in the affected areas should be provided with police protection and strict orders are issued to the administration that recurrence of such incidents would not be tolerated.
4. That the State Government and the Central Government should recognise the fact that a substantial section of the bureaucracy has been affected by the communal virus and such section of the bureaucracy be screened and remedial measures be taken. The impartiality and secular character of the state should be visible in the acts of its employees.
5. The State and Central Government should take confidence-building measures to instill confidence in the minority Christian Community. Special intelligence and criminal investigation teams be constituted to investigate into the above mentioned incidents and the culprits be arrested and prosecuted according to the law of the land.
6. The Criminal State government should send out a clear message to the communal elements that are attempting to vitiate the atmosphere that any attempt to tear the secular fabric spreading of communal canards will not be tolerated.
7. The attacks on Christian minority institutions should be treated as acts of discrimination by groups of persons on the grounds of religion as enshrined in Articles 2 of the UN Declaration on 'elimination of all forms of tolerance and of discrimination based on religion and belief (1981)' as well as violation of Article 1 (2), which states that no one shall be subject to coercion which could impair his freedom to have a religion of his choice.
8. The state should take measures in accordance with Art. 1 & 4 of the UN Declaration on the rights of persons belonging to national, or ethnic, religious, or Linguistic Minorities (1993) to cause that the minority communities can fully and effectively exercise human rights and fundamental freedoms without any discrimination.

 

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(PUCL Bulletin, July 2000)