MUMBAI, India – A Christian college in India was attacked by a mob on Wednesday, beating up staff and teachers.
About 40 members of Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), a Hindu-nationalist student organization, allegedly assaulted the proctorial board staff and teachers at St Andrew’s College in Gorakhpur, in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh. The college is over 100 years old, and affiliated with the Church of North India, which is part of the Anglican communion.
“They (ABVP activists) were alleging corruption in the institute. Around 40 of them barged into the office and wanted to meet me. The staff told them that a delegation of only 5-6 people can be allowed to meet the principal. This infuriated them and they started assaulting members of the proctorial board. They even beat up non-teaching staff,” JK Lal, the principal of the college, told the National Herald.
The principal also said the college administration has written a letter to Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, who is a native of Gorakhpur.
The ABVP has denied the allegations and said they held a peaceful protest, despite CCTV footage of the event.
“The college staff tried to interrupt the peaceful protest by ABVP workers and clashed with them,” ABVP media chief Prakash Aditya Pandey told the Hindustan Times.
The ABVP is affiliated with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the same Hindu nationalist group which is associated with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), India’s ruling party.
Since the BJP took power in 2014, incidents of harassment against Christians and other minorities have increased across the country.
The BJP also runs the state government in Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state. There are few Christians in the state: Less than 0.2 percent, as opposed to the national average of 2.3 percent.
Hindu nationalist student groups have caused incidents at several Christian colleges in India this year.
A chapel at a St. Stephen’s College in Delhi was vandalized with Hindu nationalist slogans in May.
Hindu nationalists held a rally outside a Catholic school in the northern Indian state of Madhya Pradesh on Jan. 15, after the school suspended around 20 students for chanting Hindu nationalist slogans.
Earlier the same month, clashes took place outside of another Catholic college in Madhya Pradesh, after members of ABVP tried to force the school to allow them to perform a Hindu religious ritual at the facility.