07/23/2010, 00.00
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Jammu-Kashmir, government oblivious to deportation order for Fr. Jim Borst

by Nirmala Carvalho
Two weeks ago, Catholic missionary Fr Jim Borst was ordered to leave the country by the end of July. Archbishop Peter Celestine met Omar Abdullah, chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, who declared that he was not aware of the order. Even Samuel Vargeese, Commissioner of the Interior, said he was not informed about it. A friend of Fr Borst: "The whole thing is a mystery."

Srinagar (AsiaNews) - Omar Abdullah (pictured), Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, and Samuel Vargeese, Commissioner of the Interior, said yesterday that they were not aware of the deportation order sent two weeks ago to Dutch Catholic missionary Fr. Jim Borst.

Fr. Jim Borst is the only member of the Mill Hill missionary Institute in the Kashmir Valley, where he has lived since 1963. Since 1997 he has directed two schools in Kashmir famous for their standards of teaching, one in Pulwama the other in Shivpora, Srinagar. The diocese of Jammu-Srinagar had expressed great grief and astonishment at the news of the impending expulsion of Fr Borst, because the missionary’s permission to stay until 2014 was renewed just four months ago.

Bishop Peter Celestine, Bishop of Jammu-Srinagar, met yesterday with Chief Minister Omar Abdullah to demand the withdrawal of the notice of expulsion. The bishop told AsiaNews about the incredible success of the meeting: "The Chief Minister was surprised. Omar Abdullah is also interior minister and said that no notice to leave the country was issued by his ministry. Indeed, he confirmed that they had renewed his visa. He assured me that they will investigate the matter and let us know".

Christian convert Joseph Dhar, a former Brahmin Hindu, and friend of Fr. Borst, told AsiaNews that Vargeese Samuel, Commissioner of the Interior, was unaware of the deportation order.

"It remains to be discovered who issued the expulsion order - said Joseph Dhar - the whole thing is a mystery. The Bishop, Fr. Borst and all the faithful are confused".

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