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Another Hindu radical group launches poster campaign against Christian schools across Assam

Guwahati, Feb 23: The targeting of minority run Christian missionary schools in Assam continues unabated with another Hindu radical group calling itself Sanmilito Sanatan Samaj launching a poster campaign outside education institutions in Guwahati, Dibrugarh and Jorhat, issuing an ultimatum to missionaries to remove iconography and chapels from premises of missionary schools and asking them not to turn educational institutions into a religious affair.

Anti Christian posters have been pasted outside two schools in Guwahati- Don Bosco School and St Mary’s School, on Friday. Similar posters have also come up on the boundary walls of Don Bosco High School Lichubari in Dibrugarh and Carmel School Jorhat.

The group also pasted posters in Nehru Park and Dighalipukhuri in the city. Such posters have been noticed in Barpeta and Sivasagar towns also.

Don Bosco High School Lichubari

The poster campaign was launched after the passing of the deadline given by Kutumba Suraksha Parishad for the removal of idols of Jesus Christ and Mother Mary from missionary schools and asking the Father and sisters to wear a normal dress.

“This is the final warning to stop using the school as a religious institution. Remove Jesus Christ, Mary, cross, church, etc, from the school premises and stop such anti-Bharat and unconstitutional activities, or else…” the poster in Assamese read.

In the past week, heads of several missionary schools have written to police seeking protection against untoward incidents after the head of a group calling itself Kutumba Suraksha Parishad served an ultimatum.

The poster campaign has posed a serious threat to the education environment of missionary schools with the annual examination knocking at the door.

“We are feeling insecure due to such posturing. Because they said they would go to any extent if we do not follow their command,” said a school teacher pleading anonymity.

“Our institution has always respected and accommodated individuals of all religions and cultures, maintaining a peaceful and tranquil atmosphere,” said Allen Brooks, spokesperson, Assam Christian Forum (ACF).

The threat to the school via the poster came early this month after Kutumba Surakshya Parishad led by hardliner Hindu activist Satya Ranjan Borah issued a similar warning to missionary schools after a teacher and the principal of one of them allegedly abused a 10-year-old student for chanting ‘Jai Shri Ram’ in the classroom.

The incident reportedly took place at Calvary English School at Khelmati near Balipara in Sonitpur district on February 5. A team from the Chariduar police station and the district elementary education officer intervened to bring the situation under control after the minor’s parents sought an explanation from the school authority and sounded out some local organisations.

In a letter to Archbishop, Guwahati, John Moolachira on February 13, Kutumba Surakshya Parishad president Satya Ranjan Borah said India is a land of equality and inclusiveness by its philosophical and social design of Sanatana dharma; and it is a secular country as per the Constitution of India, which clearly defines the definition of secularism and the provisions of religious practices in educational institutions.

“But, unfortunately, this is very painful for the nation to see the process of conversion of educational institutions to exclusive religious centres by neglecting the Constitutional duties defined in Article 51(A) of the Constitution of India by your Christian Missionaries ruled educational institutions. You are promoting exclusive Christianity in the schools by denying and neglecting Article 51(A) of the constitution,” claimed Borah.

The letter questioned whether the dress or costume of the teachers, especially the Father-Sisters of Christian Missionaries institutions is not exclusively religious. It also asked whether the installation of idols of Jesus Christ and Mother Mary and the sign of the Cross in the institutions is not an exclusive religious practice.

“Being a minority you have certain advantages; but, that does not give you the license or liberty to ignore and disrespect the fundamental constitutional duties towards the nation and its values. After all, you are a citizen of this Republic of Bharat. You too have the same fundamental duties and responsibilities as others,” he said.

“You are hereby requested to clear your stand and justification in writing for the concerns within the next 10 days and also request you and your authority kindly to remove all kinds of exclusive religious items from the campus of the school within a stipulated time frame for the sake of maintaining the secular values of the country. Please note; we do cordially respect and admire your religious practices and religious values & beliefs; but, please make the educational institutions Free from religious limitations and activities,” he added.

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