26 October, 2014 AsiaNews.it Twitter AsiaNews.it Facebook            

Help AsiaNews | About us | P.I.M.E. | | RssNewsletter | Mobile





mediazioni e arbitrati, risoluzione alternativa delle controversie e servizi di mediazione e arbitrato
e-mail this to a friend printable version


» 07/26/2005
INDIA
Hindu extremists slander the Church but send their children to Church-run schools
by Nirmala Carvalho
False charges of "forced conversions" are levelled at a Catholic priest. For the local bishop, this is a plot by Hindu extremists, backed by the state government that provides the legal instruments. Behind it, there is an attempt by extremists to get free access to high-status Catholic schools.

Jhabua (AsiaNews) – The growing anti-Christian campaign in states controlled by Hindu fundamentalist administrations has fallen upon another Catholic priest. For the bishop of his diocese who has come to the clergyman's defence, this is another example of how the Madhya Pradesh's Freedom of Religion Act can be used as a "legal instrument" for every kind of abuse.

The main character in the story is Fr Thomas P.T., a parish priest at St Michael's Church in the diocese of Jhabua (Madhya Pradesh). He was arrested on July 21 on false charges of favouring the conversion of local Tribals. The facts are quite different.

The Father's troubles go back to July 8, when Rusmal Charpota, an activist with the Hindu paramilitary group Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), and six other people pressed charges against the priest in the village of Jhaapadra for violating the state's Freedom of Religion Act, which bans forced conversions.

On June 25, Mr Charpota had already publicly accused Father Thomas with raising fees at the mission school he runs in order to discriminate against Hindus.

On that occasion, the RSS activist warned the Catholic priest that his organisation would decide what steps to take against him at its next meeting and would inform the authorities.

Father Thomas was eventually charged with demanding very high tuition fees whilst offering parents who couldn't pay them with the option of converting to Christianity in order to have the fees waved. The parents are said to have refused and so their children were not allowed to attend school.

In an interview with AsiaNews, Mgr Chaako Thottumarickal, Bishop of Jhabua, the diocese in which Father Thomas's parish is located, rejects the charges as false, a plot by Hindu extremists.

"These accusations are completely false. Sister Pratima and the teachers are in charge of admissions. The priest is the overall administrator but he is not involved in the day-to-day affairs of the school," Bishop Thottumarickal said.

According to the prelate, "Father Thomas's arrest is part of a conspiracy by the Sangh Parivar (an umbrella group, a 'family' of organisations and parties to which the RSS belongs). In the RSS's agenda, there is a campaign to foment anti-Christian hatred among Hindus and cause social unrest as a means to increase its popular appeal and slander the Church and its missionaries".

What is more, for Bishop Thottumarickal "the attitude of Hindu extremists towards Christians is inconsistent. First, they attack us and then they want to send their children to our schools because of the high quality of education."

The problem, he laments, is that often these families "demand their children pass the admission exams and be exempted from the fees".

The situation is made worse by the tacit support of the state government for these anti-Christian acts.

"The Freedom of Religion Act is a legal instrument offered by the authorities to extremists to persecute missionaries whom they accuse of 'forced conversions'," he said.

"Being persecuted is the price the Church must pay to pursue its mission, but at the same time our voice must be heeded. We need justice and those responsible for these odious crimes should be punished to prevent future violence."

Still, there is a silver lining in all of this, namely "solidarity among Christians in such a critical time."
None the less, "everyone is angered by the false charges brought against Father Thomas and are determined to obtain justice," Bishop Thottumarickal stressed.

After the priest's arrest, Jhabua Catholics in fact submitted a memorandum to the local and district administrations demanding that" the charges against Father Thomas be dropped and that his accusers be charged with unjustly attacking Christians and their institutions, which provide a valued service to the population in the social, educational and health fields".

The state of Madhya Pradesh is administered by the Bharatiya Janata Party, a Hindu fundamentalist party.


e-mail this to a friend printable version

See also
09/19/2008 INDIA
Hindu radicals set fire to Jabalpur cathedral, threaten new attacks in Madhya Pradesh
by Nirmala Carvalho
07/28/2005 INDIA
Hindus say Christians blameless in proselytising
by Nirmala Carvalho
08/27/2008 INDIA
Orissa: burning and looting continues, Christians beaten and cut to pieces
by Nirmala Carvalho
12/12/2007 INDIA
More than 500 cases of anti-Christian violence in 23 months
05/17/2005 INDIA
Four people arrested for handing out Bibles

Editor's choices
IRAQ - ITALY
Almost 700,000 euros raised as the 'Adopt a Christian from Mosul' campaign continues
by Bernardo CervelleraA second instalment is sent with funds raised in September. The fate of East-West relations is being played out in the Middle East and Iraq. Pope Francis and the Synod issue an appeal. Governments are lukewarm. Aid is coming from around the world. A new international community is defeating the "globalisation of indifference."
IRAQ-VATICAN
"Adopt a Christian from Mosul": Archbishops’ thanks as first aid arrives
by Amel NonaMsgr. Amel Nona, the Chaldean Archbishop of Mosul, who is also a refugee himself, thanks all the donors to the AsiaNews campaign. The situation is increasingly difficult given the huge number of refugees and the arrival of winter and snow, making outdoor shelters and tents impossible. The crisis, an occasion that activates the faith of Christians.
ITALY - IRAQ
After raising € 350,000, 'Adopt a Christian from Mosul' campaign continues
by Bernardo CervelleraDonations raised up to 31 August have been sent to the patriarch of Baghdad and the bishops of Kurdistan. The campaign helps to feed, house, clothe, and bring comfort to more than 150,000 Christian, Yazidi, Turkmen, Shia and Sunni refugees who fled the violence of the army of the Islamic Caliphate. People in Italy and around the world have been generous, including the poor and the unemployed, a sign of hope for the world as well as those who suffer and those who give.

Dossier

by Giulio Aleni / (a cura di) Gianni Criveller
pp. 176
Copyright © 2003 AsiaNews C.F. 00889190153 All rights reserved. Content on this site is made available for personal, non-commercial use only. You may not reproduce, republish, sell or otherwise distribute the content or any modified or altered versions of it without the express written permission of the editor. Photos on AsiaNews.it are largely taken from the internet and thus considered to be in the public domain. Anyone contrary to their publication need only contact the editorial office which will immediately proceed to remove the photos.