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Church schools complain of harassment

June 30, 2011 by  
Filed under India, Madhya Pradesh, Persecution

The Christian delegation headed by Archbishop Leo Cornelio with Education minister Archana Chitnis in Bhopal

The Christian delegation headed by Archbishop Leo Cornelio with Education minister Archana Chitnis in Bhopal

The Madhya Pradesh government is using a federal law to harass Christian schools, some Church leaders in the central state allege.

“Our schools have been constantly harassed and victimized in the name of the Right to Education Act,” said Father Anand Muttungal, spokesman for the Catholic Church in the state.

The new law is meant to provide for free and compulsory education to poor people.

However, government officials in the state now demand admission in Christian schools “in total violation of the law” since it came into force, the priest alleged.

“They not only use pressure tactics for out-of- turn admissions but also try to interfere with the daily administration of our schools,” he added.

Father P. J. Johny, principal of St. Joseph’s Co-Ed School in Bhopal, the state capital, finds the government officials’ interference “really disturbing.”

According to him, the law has become handy for officials to arm twist Christian schools. “As the new session has just begun, people use all kinds of pressure tactics to get admission for their children,” he said.

He said he received a letter from the top government official in Bhopal demanding admission for a third grader under the new law. “It is quite worrying,” the priest said.
Father Muttungal cited another case where the district education officer sought admission for a student under the new law. “Several such cases are pouring in from Christian schools across the state,” he added.

The new law stipulates that every school should set aside 25 percent of places for poor children in the first grade.

Father Muttungal said he would consult lawyers to take up the matter in court to stop “undue interference”.

– ucan

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