Mistaken as missionaries a group on an educational tour assulted by Right Wing Activists


BM Bureau,

Jan 17 : Staff members belonging to Vishwa Mandal Sevashram, Sirpur in Dhulia district of Maharashtra on an educational tour of Karnataka, Maharashtra and Goa, were assaulted at Sangli in Nizamuddin-Vasco Goa express. Suspecting them as missionaries who were taking a group for conversion about 15 right wing activists barged inside the bogie at Sangli and assaulted them.  Some of them received minor injuries, while a teacher in the group received head injuries.

Anticipating further escalation of tension, Belagavi police Tuesday morning sent the group back to Sirpur. A priest and a nun belonging to the educational institution accompanied the group from Sirpur.

However suspecting the trip as an attempt of conversion of innocent tribals, Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Bajrang Dal along with other right wing organisations have filed a petition with Belagavi police seeking thorough investigation.

Gunilal Resla Pawara (42), a teacher who received head injuries said that on 16th they were travelling by Goa Express to reach Belagavi.  “Our group comprising of 24 men and 14 women were aboard the train in separate bogies. When the train reached Sangli station at around 9.30 pm, about 15 men barged inside the bogie and started abusing and assaulting us stating that we are on a conversion tour. They were not in the mood of listening though we told them that we are on an educational tour and kept on beating us. One of them hit me with his steel kada (steel hand ring) on my head after which I started bleeding. This went on for over 20 minutes and when the train reached Miraj, the police entered the bogie after which the assailants escaped, Gunilal said showing the head injuries while blood stains were seen on his shirt.

This was not the only thing, once the group alighted at Belagavi Railway station at around 1 am on Tuesday, while the Belagavi police was waiting at the station and enquiring with the group, two youngsters reportedly belonging to a right wing group whisked away Bansilal, a teacher and threatened him to say that they were being brought for conversion. “They whisked me away from the group and at the point of knife forced me confess that we were brought for conversion to make a video, which I strongly denied, after which they left me where the group was and vanished in the dark of night.” Bansilal said.

The  group was later taken to a dormitory in the St Paul’s junior college campus . After giving protection overnight, Tuesday morning the police arranged a KSRTC bus and was sent back to go back to Sirpur. “ There were rumours making rounds in the city, hence to avoid any further escalation, we requested the group to retun

The group was to visit Mahalaxmi Temple and Kaneri Math in Kolhapur and some temples and places of religious tourist interest in Belagavi and Goa and later return on January 20th from Goa by Goa expresse. However, questions are being raised as to why the group was forced to return.

Meanwhile, Bishop of Belgaum Rev Dr Derek Fernandes has condemned the act of the vandals and has expressed shock. “ I am shocked to hear about the incident which should not have happened in a democratic country like us. It’s a very bad act and I urge that the concerned police should take up seriously and act against the assailants and bring them to book,” Bishop Derek Fernandes said urging the authorities to make appropriate investigations.

………… end

Photo : 1. The group being sent back to Sirpur in a KSRTC bus.

  1. Gunilal who received the head injuries.

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