Christian forum complains of VHP “pressure”

November 26, 2014 by  
Filed under newsletter-india

VHPRaipur, November 26, 2014: The Chhattisgarh Christian Forum (CCF) has accused the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) of “pressuring and threatening” the Catholic Diocese of Bastar to accept the demands of putting Hindu Goddess Saraswati’s picture in Catholic schools of Bastar and allowing non-Christian students to call Catholic teachers “Pracharya” instead of “Father”.

The Catholic Diocese of Jagdalpur (Bastar) allegedly held a joint press conference with representatives of the VHP in Bastar on Sunday and issued a statement giving its “acceptance” to the VHP’s demands.

“The Diocese and his people were pressurised and threatened to sign the statement, which says that Saraswati’s picture will be put in every Catholic school of Bastar and ‘Father’ can be called ‘Pracharya’ or ‘Up-pracharya’. This is a clear violation of our fundamental right to religion, which the Constitution provides us. Neither the VHP nor any of our own Diocese has the right to violate our fundamental rights,” Arun Pannalal, CCF president told The Hindu.

“There is a decision-making system in our Church and any such decision has to go through a series of committees from town level to national level. The final decision is taken by the national body, which can issue statements on behalf of the community. The Jagdalpur Diocese is not authorised to take any such decisions or issue any statement,” claimed the CCF chief.

However, the spokesperson of Catholic Diocese of Jagdalpur, Abraham Kannampala, denied being “threatened or pressured” into accepting VHP’s demands.

“We gave an in-principle acceptance to VHP’s demands. But our decision will have to be endorsed by the Bishop, who is the final authority,” said Mr.Kannampala.

According to Father Dominic Emanuel, former Delhi Archdiocese spokesperson, the Christian community is “certainly not [going] along” with the decision of Jagdalpur Diocese.

“The Jagdalpur diocese may not be simply under physical pressure, but does he have a choice? He has to stay in Bastar and run schools there. We don’t know what kind of pressure he has faced and what will be the consequences if he goes back on his word,” said Father Emanuel.

Both Father Emanuel and Mr.Pannalal claimed that the whole “drama” was an attempt by the VHP to “frighten” the minority community.

However, the VHP denied the allegations levelled by the Christian bodies.

“The Jagdalpur Catholic body had invited us for the meeting. We just proposed our demands and they accepted them. The allegations against us are baseless. They (CCF) want to disturb the peaceful atmosphere here,” VHP Bastar district president Mr.Suresh Yadav told The Hindu.

The CCF president informed that the body will take a legal route against the demands imposed by the VHP.

– the hindu

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