Death of raped 9-year old girl in Christian school campus ignites Hindus' ire

"I do not rule out a preplanned attempt to implicate us," Father Pradeep Cherian

Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, India., Jan. 31 - Incensed by the alleged rape and murder of a nine-year-old on a Catholic Mission School campus in Jhabua recently, a mob of VHP activists forced their way into the campus, pelted stones and attacked the priests there.

The mob was protesting the alleged rape and murder of a nine-year-old who was found dead on the campus. But so far there is no evidence to connect anybody on the campus with the incident. As per reports reaching here, the girl was selling fruits outside the campus with her brother when she was lured inside by a youth on the pretext that the nuns wanted to buy fruit. When the girl did not return, the brother set out to search for her. She was found dead in a toilet on the campus. Father Pradeep Cherian of the Catholic church stationed 15 km away at Meghanagar said, "The mob gathered outside the school under the banner of the Hindu Jagran Manch. The Collector and SP assured me they would tackle the situation. Over 500 people forced their way in, attacked the priests and damaged vehicles before the police could control them. I am in touch with the school authorities. Police do not have the numbers to control the situation and the IG is rushing to the spot."

He added: "They are attempting to blame our personnel. I do not rule out a preplanned attempt to implicate us. The priests have been evacuated but there are sisters and around 75 girls still in the hostel. I do not know how the police will evacuate them because even the police vehicles are being attacked."

SP Jhabua Mayank Jain would only confirm that "a mob of over 50 persons from the VHP entered the campus and pelted stones. They caused some damage to property and vehicles."

Jhabua borders Gujarat and the Sewa Bharti wing of the RSS has been active among the Bhil tribals. The Hindu Jagran Manch that spearheaded the Bhojshala agitation in neighbouring Dhar district has established itself here. During the Assembly polls, much of the BJP's campaign in Jhabua and Dhar was handled by the Sangh and they, for the first time, swept these tribal seats.

Incidentally, two years ago, the district court had convicted 10 men for the rape of nuns and robbery in a convent in Navapada in Jhabua district on September 22, 1998.