Around 20 Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) activists on Monday vandalised a missionary school, smashed window panes, broke furniture and manhandled staff members, including the vice-principal, to protest against alleged disrespect to the national anthem by the principal on Republic Day.
Under the ABVP pressure, police arrested St Thomas Convent Senior Secondary School principal Father Thomas Malancharuvil on charges of disrespecting the national anthem under Sections 2 and 3 of the prevention of insults to National Honour Act, 1971. He was later produced in a local court, which released him on bail.
SP Jaideep Prasad said the police also arrested 17 ABVP activists and produced them in the court. They were released on bail by the court later.
Eyewitnesses said the ABVP activists barged into the school around 11.15 am, and started ransacking the building and furniture. They also manhandled vice-principal Sister Nalina and other staff members.
Later police rushed to the spot and cane-charged the hoodlums to disperse them.
The genesis of the trouble was the suspension of the school’s physical education instructor, Arvind Prakash Gupta. The principal said Gupta was suspended for coming 15 minutes late in the R-Day function. However, saffron outfits alleged the teacher was punished for singing the national anthem.
On the other hand, the school administration maintained Gupta was suspended for reaching late. His suspension was revoked after the teacher admitted his mistake.
“There was no interruption to recitation of the national anthem or unfurling of national flag", the principal said.