Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government on Monday froze the bank accounts of Mother Teresa's Missionaries of Charity (MoC) in West Bengal, the state's political leader said Monday, after weekend protests over Christmas celebrations, Reuters has reported.
Hindu vigilante groups disrupted Christmas mass in parts of India, including in Modi's core territory ahead of local elections in the coming months.
Hardline Hindu outfits affiliated with Modi's party have repeatedly accused the Missionaries of Charity of leading religious conversion programs under the guise of charity by offering poor Hindus and tribal communities money, free education and shelter.
Mother Teresa, a Roman Catholic nun who died in 1997, founded the Missionaries of Charity in 1950. Head-quartered in the eastern state of West Bengal, the MoC has more than 3,000 nuns worldwide who run hospices, community kitchens, schools, leper colonies and homes for abandoned children, according to Reuters.
Since Modi came to power in 2014, right-wing Hindu groups have consolidated their position across states and launched small-scale attacks on religious minorities, saying their action is to prevent religious conversions.
Christians and other critics say the justification for preventing conversions is false and note Christians represent only 2.3% of India's 1.37 billion people, while Hindus are the overwhelming majority.
The Hindu newspaper on Monday reported disruption of Christmas celebrations at the weekend and last week, including the vandalizing of a life-size statue of Jesus Christ at Ambala in Haryana, a northern state governed by Modi's nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
It also reported activists burnt a model of Santa Claus and chanted slogans against Christmas celebrations and religious conversions on Saturday outside a church in Varanasi, Modi's parliamentary constituency and Hinduism's holiest city.
On Saturday, Christmas celebrations were also disrupted in Silchar, eastern Assam, after men, claiming to be members of Bajrang Dal - a right-wing group with close ties to BJP - forced their way into a church, NDTV, a local news channel, reported.
Several Indian states have passed or are considering anti-conversion laws that challenge freedom of belief and related rights that the Indian Constitution guarantees to minorities.
Hindu mob vandalizes Catholic school
An angry mob of Hindu nationalists stormed a Catholic school on Dec 6, throwing stones and damaging property in protest of alleged conversions at the school, the German news agency DPA reported.
Brother Anthony Tynumkel, the administrator of St. Joseph's School in the city of Ganj Basoda in Madhya Pradesh, said a mob of at least 200 people came in through the school gate shouting slogans favored by radical Hindu nationalists.
"Some of them turned violent and threw stones and damaged property. We shifted the students to the top floor so they were safe. After some time, they left," Tynumkel said.
The mob is believed to have been whipped up into a frenzy by a letter circulated on social media that claims eight pupils were converted to Christianity at St. Joseph's on Oct. 31.
The accusations were untrue, according to Tynumkel: "We don't have any attendance on Sundays, and the students named do not study here."
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