Christian groups held demonstrations, and all the 50 odd missionary-run schools and colleges in the district remained shut on Friday, in protest against the vandalizing of the St Peter and St Paul’s Cathedral in Jabalpur.
Elsewhere, in far-off Karnataka, the targeting of Christians that had begun last Sunday continued with two more churches — one in Bangalore and the other in Mangalore — being attacked on Friday.
On Thursday night two unidentified men riding a motorcycle came to the cathedral, located in the cantonment area, and set fire to the altar as well as the statues of St Peter and St Paul located there. The fire brigade doused the conflagration preventing the cathedral from being burnt down.
“The cathedral was closed when they entered,” said assistant parish priest Father Davis. “They entered by breaking window panes and forcing open some windows. Some of our nuns, who stay in an adjoining building, saw them.”
No arrests have been made so far.
Senior members of the Christian community maintained there had been around 170 attacks on Christians and churches during the last four years of BJP rule. Earlier this month, a church had been set on fire in Ratlam on September 7 and another in Indore on September 14.
Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan assured a delegation of Christians who met him in Bhopal on Friday that the government would order a judicial probe into the incident.
Indira Iyengar, president of the MP Chhatisgarh Christian Forum has appealed to the president to ban the Bajrang Dal and Vishwa Hindu Parishad in the wake of increasing attacks on the community. “As elections are approaching, we fear more violence if this is not done,” she said.
Another Christian demonstration across the state is slated for Sunday.