03/26/2015, 00.00
INDIA

West Bengal, death threats against a Catholic girls' school

by Nirmala Carvalho
The Sisters of the Child Mary have received letters in threatening to “burn the school and the local church” if they do not leave. The police step up security around the institute. Archbishop of Calcutta: "We do not know who is behind the threats, but we are not scared. The sisters will never leave their mission".

Mumbai (AsiaNews) - "The sisters will never leave their mission. We are not afraid of these threats", says Msgr. Thomas D'Souza, Archbishop of Calcutta, commenting on the threatening letters received by the female Catholic high school St. Capitanio of Nagrakata in West Bengal. The letters warn the Sisters of the Child Mary (Sisters of Charity), who run the institution, to close the facility and leave.

For the moment, the prelate said, "it is not clear who is behind these threats.  The author of these letters threaten to burn down the school and church if the sisters do not leave. The case is already in the hands of the police and district officials have assured the sisters and provided the necessary protection".

Sister Anise Jacob, the school principal, filed a complaint on 22 March, and since then the security measures have increased. Police have set up pickets outside the building and in adjacent areas.

"The school - the bishop tells AsiaNews - is very old. Most of the students are tribal Adivasis. 192 girls live in the hostel. Nearby there is also a boys' school. "

According to Msgr. D'Souza "it is possible that the letters are a way to divert attention and aggravate the issue. However, we are waiting for the message content to be decrypted, to understand who is behind all this. The Catholic Church is in touch with the police officers and with the sisters. Investigations proceed and the convent is protected. The local population has organized committees to control the area".

On March 13, another female religious convent in West Bengal was attacked, during which the 72-year old superior was the victim of a gang rape.

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