Christian School Vandalised in Kashmir

A Christian school has been vandalised in Kashmir, India, the persecution watchdog International Christian Concern (ICC) has reported.

A local Christian, who asked not to be named, described to ICC the details of the attack.

"Some students of a nearby government college demolished a wall, smashed windows and damaged furniture of the school and shouted slogans against Christian missionaries alleging they were converting Muslims. They tried to attack the founder of the school, Fr. Jim Borst, and the principal, Sister Veronica, but they managed to escape unhurt," he said.

According to the witness, the attack was provoked by the recent decision of the school administration to suspend a Muslim teacher for allegedly blackmailing a Class 11 student.

He told the ICC that some fellow teachers who were close to the suspended teacher decided to stage a protest to pressure the school into retracting the teacher's suspension.

In addition to that, the colleagues extended their demands on the school from the original request that the suspension of the teacher in question be cancelled to petitioning for an increase in their salary and permanent status of their appointment as teachers.

"These teachers put up a poster in the school in Urdu language saying they demands are in the name of Allah. Not knowing that the poster had the name of Allah, the principal tore it, after which the teachers incited the Muslim students of the government college to attack the school alleging that the school had insulted Allah and that its administration was converting Muslim students," said the source.

Soon after the attack, police arrived and took Fr. Borst and Sister Veronica away from the school and gave them protection.

In the face of heightened tensions, the district authorities ordered that the school remain closed for at least five days, the ICC reported. The district magistrate also launched an inquiry into the allegation of conversion made against the school.

"The school has been closed for five days as a precautionary measure in view of tension following allegations that it was trying to motivate people for conversion under the grab of spreading education," District Magistrate Mehraj Ahmad Kakroo told the media.

The inquiry report is expected at the latest on Monday 18 September.

Fr. Borst, a Catholic priest of the Dutch Mill Hill order, has been living in Kashmir for more than 40 years. Muslim fundamentalists lobbied the state government two years in an attempt to force Fr. Borst to move out. They failed and the elderly priest was allowed to remain in the region.