07/26/2014, 00.00
INDIA

In Madhya Pradesh: nationalists shout victory for Rama after Catholic school wall demolished

by Nirmala Carvalho
For the principal at Holy Spirit School in Khandwa, tearing down the wall was an illegal act, done by the authorities "under pressures from Hindu nationalist forces". Because of the demolition, torrential rains flooded the school compound. The wall is at the centre of a legal dispute with the nearby Vatsala Vihar Housing Colony. So far, the courts have backed the school.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) - The Church of Madhya Pradesh is making an appeal through AsiaNews against the illegal demolition of a wall at Holy Spirit School in Khandwa, which took place on the orders of the authorities "under pressure from Hindu nationalists".

The school principal Sister Archana noted that after the wall's demolition - which took place on Wednesday - torrential rains flooded several places in the school compound and girls' hostel. When the operation was underway, people rushed to the spot, shouting Jai Shree Ram! (Victory to Lord Rama!), slogans often used by Hindu radicals.

Contacted by AsiaNews, the Bishop of Khandwa Alangaram Durairaj said that the incident was "a regrettable fact because our educational apostolate is a service to nation-building. Christians are a tiny part in our schools, which is instead open to everyone without discrimination of caste and creed. We call on everyone to have the gift of reciprocity."

On Wednesday, school staff were preparing to close the Catholic school as bad weather was approaching, when the district collector sought a meeting with the principal.

In the meeting, the authorities told Sister Archana that the Vatsala Vihar Housing Colony - which is close to the school - was about to be flooded because of the wall surrounding the school.

According to the district collector, the wall prevented the proper flow of water, and had to be demolished. The nun tried to object, but without success. A few hours later, the wall was torn down.

"The fact is that the facility was built with all necessary permits," the principal explained. "All required fees were paid. Moreover, the Holy Spirit School was built long before the Vatsala Vihar Housing Colony."

 "The Housing Board, which built the colony, was unable to put in an effective drainage system, and tried to hide its failure by blaming our school of blocking the natural flow of water."

The issue has been before the courts. The Housing Board filed a case against the school, but the court ruled in favour of the Holy Spirit School. The school then appealed to the district court, and won the case again.

At that point, the Housing Board appealed to the High Court in Madhya Pradesh, which has yet to rule on the matter. "For this reason, the demolition is illegal," said Sister Archana.

"Besides, despite the rain the colony was not in danger. But as soon as our wall was knocked down, school and hostel were just about flooded by water".

The fact that people rushed towards it shouting Jai Shree Ram, the nun said, "suggests that the district administration has given in to pressure from ultra-nationalist Hindu forces and sought an excuse to harm us."

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