Attack on Jesuit College in Anekal by communal forces


Fr. Melwin

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Karnataka, January 30, 2012: St Joseph’s PU College, Anekal witnessed tense situation over two days as saffron groups protested inside the College campus on 26 and 27 January for failing to hoist the national flag on republic day.  On 27 January a mob consisting of more than 100 members belonging to ABVP, Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Bajrang Dal, Rashtra Sakthi Sene, Karnataka Rakshana Vedike and some elected Councillors of Anekal Municipality entered the College campus and demanded that the classes be suspended with immediate effect.  When Fr Anil D’Mello, SJ along with the staff and parents of the college with the help of Anekal Tahisildhar Shive Gowda tried to diffuse the tense situation the police remain largely mute spectators.  The absence of Circle Inspector and even sub-inspector at the scene allowed the group to grow in number and continue agitation in the campus for nearly two hours.  As the atmosphere grew tense the Tashildhar demanded the presence of Principal Fr Melwin Mendonca, SJ in the campus.  He entered the College campus only to be surrounded by unruly mob.  As the situation looked grim and the mob unrelenting, Principal was not allowed to make any statement.  The group demanded that the Principal be arrested and taken into Police custody.   Fr Melwin and Fr Anil gave consent to the demand as it could disperse the agitating mob from the campus.

Unfortunately, instead of taking the Principal by Police vehicle to station, the police continued to listen to the diktats of the mob who forced the Principal to walk to the station in procession.  As procession moved from College to the Police station the mob continued to shout anti minority slogans and slogans against the college, Principal as well as management.  Though Principal maintain his calm and was protected by the police throughout 1km walk to the station, College students were beaten up by the mob as they came to protect the Principal who was being taken away unjustly.  Some of the students who are injured in this tussle are dalits.  Out of 378 students studying in the College 220 belong to scheduled caste and another 60 students belong to minority groups.  The College is only in the second year of its existence though Jesuits have been working in Anekal Taluka for the past 40 years. 

Fr Melwin Mendonca, SJ reached the station at 12.30 pm and was kept there until 9.00pm.  The police treated Fr Melwin with utmost dignity in the station.  During the day some of the group leaders entered the station and demanded that the Principal should not sit on a chair and if he is not arrested and put behind bars whole Anekal town would be closed on the following day.

Flag

Jesuits and Catholic College Principals swung into action

Fr Anil D’Mello SJ and Fr Melwin Mendonca, SJ quickly passed on the information to all concerned people immediately.  A team of Jesuits and a few Catholic Principals of Bangalore city Colleges swung into quick action.  The political pressure and the intervention of top cops started showing results only at 7pm.  The top cops from Bangalore city called up to inform me that there was no case and to remain calm.  They also wondered why I have been kept in the station for so long! (I was kept in the station to pacify the agitating mob!!)  As the station realized their mistake they wanted me to be out of station without formally registering a complaint for the illegal entry of the mob into the college, attack on staff and dalit students and the long procession.   Before I was released the group leaders who were called to the station and warned

Analysis

1.       ABVP has visited the College 8 times this academic year.  They have forced that the college to be closed down twice for Anna Hazare agitation.  They wanted our students to become members of their association.  The management rule says that no outside association can conduct enrollment of students inside the college campus.  This episode was used to malign the College Management and Principal by ABVP.

2.       The associations wanted to collect from the management by harassing the College and management.

3.       Some institutions thought that the cancellation of recognition of St Joseph’s PU College will be beneficial to their institution as Tashildhar was forced to write to the PU board to take stringent action.  My meeting with DDPU at Basvangudi revealed this, as the DD accused the college on the basis of religion and threatened that the recognition will be cancelled from next year.  I was not allowed to present, our part of the whole episode though we had conducted Republic day function at Jnanjyothi where the registered office Society is situated.

4.       The Jesuits and their works have faced stiff resistance for the past 15 years by the communal forces. In year 2000 students who were on NSS camp to Anekal village were violently attacked, a little later a Jesuit Scholastic was stabbed on his way to a village.  There are more and many such instances where the Christians are persecuted in this part of the state.

5.       The issue not flag hoisting on republic but larger designs of saffron groups to destroy secular fabric of the country. As Kannada Prabha reporting on the incident says: “Christians should not be allowed to open educational institutions, Principal should be thrown out of the country, Christians destroy culture of India and hence take strong action on them”.  This only reveals on the hidden agenda behind the agitation.

6.       Many reliable sources have told me that there are many institutions in Bangalore District alone who have not hoisted the national flag on republic day.  Will the above organizations protest for the closure of all those institutions?

Future                                                                                                                           

Future is tough and belongs only to the daring and the committed Jesuits.  Crisis management groups and quick response teams to help men and works in such situations will strengthen our apostolate.  The journey has only begun and there is a long way to go.

Comments on this Article
Jossey Saldanha, Mangalore/Mapusa/ Mumbai Tue, January-31-2012, 3:47
Hoisting of Pakistani Flag, beating up of St. Joseph’s PU College students, parading their principal and provocative speech of Prabhakar Bhat are instances intentionally created by BJP, VHP, RS and BD only to create law and order problems to divert attention from issues of CORRUPTION and INCOMPETENCY.
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