03/14/2023, 17.03
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Child protection agency against Catholic schools in Madhya Pradesh

by Nirmala Carvalho

A school principal was arrested during an inspection and boarding hostels came under investigation in the Diocese of Jabalpur, following pressure from Priyank Kanoongo, a Hindu nationalist and president of the National Commission for the Rights of the Child, who is not at his first initiative against Christian schools. Bishop Almeida called on the faithful to pray. "We have been serving the poor’ he said. In the end, “the truth will be vindicated in the court.”

Jabalpur (AsiaNews) – Bishop Gerald Almeida of Jabalpur (Madhya Pradesh) last Sunday issued a circular to the faithful, inviting them to pray for the “personnel of the diocese" following new acts of hostility.

The message, dated 12 March, mentions a sudden inspection on 5 March by child protection officials in a diocesan high school in Junwani and a middle school with boarding facilities in Ghoreghat.

The inspection of the hostels for boys and girls attached to the school was carried out at the request of the National Commission for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (NCPRC).

Since the appointment at its helm of Priyank Kanoongo, a Hindu nationalist, the agency has targeted Christian-run schools, which are well known across India for their service to the community.

During the inspection in Junwani, one of the girls made allegations against the principal, Nansingh Yadav, of inappropriate touching, after which the police accompanying the inspectors immediately took the man into custody.

The next day, he was let go after other students of the school and their parents staged a demonstration to demand his release claiming that Yadav was framed in a "totally fake case".

On 7 March, the principal was re-arrested, reportedly under pressure from NCPRC President Priyank Kanoongo. At the same time, the police inspector who released Yadav was suspended while the superintendent who had come to his defence was transferred from his post.

The police also filed a First Information Report ( FIR) against the priests in charge of the two schools, Fr Sunny Kurvila in Junwani and Fr Zibi Sebastian in Ghoreghat.

The Diocese of Jabalpur has run the schools and boarding facility in question for over 80 years; currently more than 600 pupils attend them.

"We have been serving the poor people but never had faced such a situation,” said Bishop Almeida, quoted by Matters India, an online news platform.

"It is unfortunate that officials who are supposed to uphold the laws are violating them," the prelate added, noting that he was certain that "the truth will be vindicated in the court."

In his circular, Bishop Almeida also urged the faithful to pray to “the lord for his Justice and for his mercy, through this letter may I request you to pray to God our Lord, through the powerful name of Jesus Christ who will certainly protect us, and also Mother Mary, who will plead for us with the father.”

In particular, the bishop recommends everyone pray before the Blessed Sacrament with this intention.

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