Catholic college closed down in Madhya Pradesh. Bishop of Sagar: They want to drive out Christians
The college has been hosting the poor tribal students of the area for 20 years. The Church legally bought the property and the documents are in order. Bishop Anthony Chirayath: "False accusation of having converted 200 people". Archbishop Cornelio: "Nationalists want tribals to return to the Hindu religion. But they have not been converted. "
Mumbai (AsiaNews) - The Madhya Pradesh government has closed a Catholic college that offered hospitality to the poor tribal of the area for 20 years. Authorities claim the mission does not have the appropriate permits and was built on land it does not own. Not only that, Hindu nationalists are accusing Christians of providing accommodation to young tribals with the sole aim of forcibly converting them. The bishops of the area are not willing to tolerate such provocation and reiterate that the hostel has all the legal certifications and serves the local population for the benefit of the most needy.
Speaking to AsiaNews Msgr. Anthony Chirayath, bishop of Sagar, under whose jurisdiction the college falls, denounces that the purpose of the accusers "is to drive out Christians from this area.There are just two Christian families here and yesterday one of them told me they received threats. Now lives in fear. " The bishop underlines that the police conducted investigations "and found that the alleged accusation of converting 200 people is false. Police officers have also verified that property really belongs to the Church, so there is nothing illegal about the land on which the structure is built. They only want to attack us. "
Msgr. Leo Cornelio, archbishop of Bhopal, speaks of "harassment against Christians and an anti-Christian atmosphere surrounding our mission. This is a land dispute. And it is also a question of Ghar Wapsi, that is to return to the religion of origin. But tribals have never been Hindus. So the [nationalist]'s claim to return the land to the people is unfounded and only responds to the goal of tormenting Christians. "
Guna's district administration has sealed the college in the village of Mohanpur, aimed at welcoming tribal children. Fr. Siljo Kidangan, in charge of the college, told Matters India that the authorities are also forcing him and the children they host to abandon the facility. The young people were transferred to another government college, against their will and the priest's appeal for dialogue.
The former director underlines that the Catholic mission "provided housing for poor pupils studying in the nearby public school. Among these are also brilliant schoolchildren who have been selected and admitted to the best schools, which will provide them with higher education. "
Concerning the dispute, Fr. Kidangan reports that state authorities "received pressure from extremist Hindu groups and closed the school, arguing that our certificate lacked the signature of the district authority. But the Church bought land from the local population following all legal formalities. Now because of a small matter the government has taken possession of the property. " He complains that the administration "should have given us the opportunity to correct the mistake, because our property is not the result of an invasion and we work for the poorest among the poor." Now ecclesiastical hierarchies have appealed to the High Court of the Indian State. "We hope for a decision in our favor," he concludes, "although the process could last a long time."