Each day, children on their way to Mount Carmel School pass through gates under the watch of armed security guards, and now city police officers who stop there on government orders after a nearby Catholic convent and school were broken into.
The vandals stole money, tampered with security cameras and ransacked the principal’s office on Feb. 13.
The crime itself was relatively minor, but it rippled through other Christian schools. The attack was the sixth this year in an ongoing series targeting Christian communities and schools across India.
It was also the turning point for Prime Minister Narendra Modi to address the growing safety concerns of India’s minority Christian community.
Earlier this month, the annual report of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom cited an “increase of harassment and violence” among India’s Christian community.
What is not widely understood outside of India is that these Christian schools are largely Hindu. Of Mount Carmel’s 2,500 students, for example, 75 percent are Hindu, 17 percent are Christian and fewer than 2 percent are Muslim. There are some Buddhist students as well.
While the current Bharatiya Janata Party government voices strong support for minority groups, it draws the line at conversion. Tarun Vijay, an elected member of the upper house of Parliament in India and a member of the BJP, said he was one of the first to stand up for equal rights for Christians, citing Jesus as one of the best examples of love.