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VHP blamed for attack on Christians

Secretary of the Christian Association, Samson Christian, was injured after being attacked by some people allegedly owing allegiance to the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) at Good Shepherd School in Vatva area in Gujarat on 21 July.

The trouble began when 15 to 20 people barged into the school office in the afternoon, and manhandled Samson. A brick thrown by one of them hit him on the head.

According to the school authorities, it all started over non-payment of school fees by a parent. An autorickshaw driver, Prakash Shodagar, who had been employed with the school for over a decade for ferrying students, could not pay his son’s fees, who joined this school last year. Shodagar later shifted his son to another school. On July 19, there was reportedly an altercation between Principal J. Johnson and Shodagr, who refused to pay up and allegedly threatened to get the school closed.

School authorities say Shodagar later returned with 15 to 20 persons who allegedly manhandled Johnson, claiming that the school was forcibly converting students to Christianity.

Shogadar also lodged a complaint against the school authorities at the Vatva GIDC police station, while another case was filed by the school management. The school authorities allege that the police are yet to act on their complaint.

Meanwhile, Shodagar and two accomplices stormed the school office again on 21 July and allegedly manhandled Christian, who was writing to the police urging action against him. The school authorities say when Samson started running, one of them threw a brick at him. Samson also alleges that VHP leader Kantibhai Ghai had led the attack on the principal.

Convener of the State Minorities Cell Fr. Fernandes says that despite promising to protect the minorities, the government is not initiating action against the accused. Convener of the Gujarat United Christian Forum for Human Rights Fr Cedric Prakash has also called upon the government "to bring an immediate halt to these repeated and unwarranted attacks on minorities.’

Kantibhai Ghia was not available for comment. But the VHP office, when contacted, denied any involvement in the incident. Party joint secretary Kaushik Mehta said: ‘Whenever anything of this sort happens, the VHP’s name is dragged into it. We have nothing to do with the incident.’ 
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