A GROUP of Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) activists went on the rampage at the Loreto Convent College on Sunday following reports of controversy over a routine prayer session on the campus. round 40 activists reached the college at around 5 pm on three cars and a mini van. They parked the vehicles near the college and walked towards the campus raising slogans even as a few cops present looked on as mute spectators.
The activists forcefully opened the main gate, burst firecrackers and went on breaking over two-dozen flowerpots before barging into the administrative office. They reportedly trashed doors windows on their way by throwing pieces of flowerpots on the windows. Some staff members even claimed that the demonstrators had fired in the air.
A few minutes later they left the campus raising slogans against the institute and its authorities. Cops from the nearby police station reached the spot, but they could only catch three of the culprits, while other managed to flee.
College reaction ‘personality development’ and ‘inner strength’ The college authorities termed the incident as an act of ‘vandalism’ and a deliberate attempt to ‘damage’ the institute’s image in public eyes.
They said a routine prayer for personality development has been blown out of proportions. Sister Tressia, the community leader at the institute, said, “We begin our day with prayers. The only difference with this prayer was that Nobo was called in specially to demonstrate. The intention was to make everyone experience God and gain strength to tackle difficult situations in lives. But, no one was compelled to attend it.”
She said the event was held a few days ago and claimed it was announced that those unwilling to attend might leave. Till now there have been no complaints either from the parents or the students, she said. All the students are coming to school. A few persons played a mischief, she said, by projecting the routine event in a wrong way.
Parties decry vandalism
Political parties condemned vandalism by Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) activists on the Loreto Convent campus.
However, none of them defended the school management for ‘organising’ blessings to schoolchildren by a person, who claimed to invoke the spirit of Jesus Christ.
Congress Legislature Party leader Pramod Tiwari said the school management should have avoided such a programme. He termed the ‘attack’ on the school an act of ‘terrorism’.
State Samajwadi Party president Ram Saran Das said such so-called ‘religious’ programmes should be avoided in educational institutions. He lashed out at BJYM workers for trying to cash in on the incident politically.
State BJP president Keshari Nath Tripathi said parents did not send their children to school to educate them about a particular religion, or ‘supernatural powers’. He, however, dubbed the violence a minor incident. The reaction to the “highly-sensitive religious” issue was normal, he said.
‘The hype was uncalled for’
SEVERAL TEACHERS, students and the parents of the wards came out in support of the ‘spiritual prayer session. It was not LC alone where the spiritual session was held.
There were some who said few girls did faint during the session. However, they attributed it to “suffocation and lack of stamina.” A protest demonstration has also been planned against the vandalism on the college premises at 10.30 am outside the campus on Monday.
“It was a good experience for me. All claims against it are bogus,” said Anam Zaidi, Class XII student and head girl of the college LC who turned out in her school uniform to defend her principal Sister Monica.
“Sister Monica had declared at the outset that she was not seeking to convert students to Christianity,” Anam claimed.
The session that was earlier held at St Agnes’ College started on LC campus at 7.05 am. At around 7.15 am Nobo came. “He just asked us to close our eyes and remember whatever God we believe in,” she claimed. Varalika Srivastava, a class XI student claimed that a simple “prayer service” was unnecessarily “hyped”.
Noor Yaab Nakhat, class XI student, said she would attend a similar spiritual session if it were to be held again. “No one is in hospital as a section of the media is claiming,” she added. Nitika Dwivedi, Class XII student said, “blessings came for free on September 6 and I too was among those blessed by a noble soul.”
The parents too came out in support of the college administration. “I have been a student of this college in 1982. My daughter too is studying here. The vandalism that took place on the college for a simple thing is absolutely uncalled for,’ said Preeti Agarwal. Sunita Chandola felt, “I don’t think Sister Monica has committed any crime. She is being harassed unnecessarily.”
College teachers like Shehnaz Zaidi and Poonam Singh were at the forefront in defense of their principal and her act of allowing an apparently odd spiritual experience to take place on the campus. There was a parent, whose ward also studies on the campus, who said that his daughter had fainted during the spiritual assembly. “My daughter fainted. But, then I do not think that the kind of hype attached to the incident is justified,’ he said.