Religious sisters in India say they are “committed to our education ministry” after an attack which left several of them hospitalized in the southern state of Tamil Nadu on March 26.

Members of the Hindu nationalist organization Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) attacked the Little Flower Higher Secondary School in Chinnasalem, physically assaulting – and even attempting to strangle – the nuns and causing around $150,000 in damage.

The RSS is associated with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which has ruled India Since 2014, with Narendra Modi serving as prime minister. Religious minorities claim incidents of harassment against minorities – particularly Christians and Muslims – have increased since the party took power.

“Two of our religious were discharged on April 3, after a week in hospital, where they were treated for the injuries as a result of the assault.  One of the nuns was treated for leg injuries, and severe abdominal/internal injuries, the other nun was beaten on her neck. Three other nuns were treated and discharged after a day, for injuries,” said Sister Devaseer Mary Siria Pushpam, the provincial of the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

“This incident is also a sad reflection on the dignity of women. The attackers had no respect for us, even as women, one of our nuns, with abdominal and internal injuries was pinched on her stomach. This cannot be condoned,” she told Crux. “Women must be respected and treated with dignity. In our school, we emphasize dignity and respect, leadership, service and values essential for the upbringing of our children to be responsible adults.”

Hundreds of people attacked the school after a teenage student committed suicide due to academic pressure ahead of an exam, some of them demanding money. They returned the next day, and classrooms were looted, windows were broken, and even the chapel was vandalized.

 

Read more at Crux. 

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