Some 40 students of the St. Agnes High School were made to stand outside on July 10 for being absent from school the previous day.
According to the family members of the girls, most of them who belonged to the Bohra Muslim community, said the girls had gone to the principal on July 10 with a justification but were not received and they kept standing there for long 7 hours in the sun due to which three girls had to drink water.
The parents said that on Wednesday they had prayers of Lailatul Qadr due to which they had to stay awake all night and the girls were not able to attend school the next day.
The whole issue led to an outrage and protests by the parents of the girls, politicians and activists against the institution, leading to an apology by the principal Sr. Louisa D’Mello yesterday.
“The issue has been resolved after the principal apologized for her lack of insensitivity toward the students and the parents of the concerned children have accepted the apology,” Fr. Nigel Barret, spokesperson of the Bombay archdiocese, told ucanews.com.
He said that Sr. D’Mello had gone on a retreat under the given the circumstances.
“This was a disciplinary issue that got colored with communal overtones,” Fr. Barret said.
Gordon D’Souza of the Bombay Catholic Sabha said that all Catholic schools have a good record for impartiality and strict discipline and no pressure should be brought on them.
“It would be best if politicians keep out of such issues. Religion should not be mixed with education,” he added.
Fr. Victor Edwin, who is an expert on Christian-Muslim relations, said that such incidents could be major problem for the society.
“Such incidents give way to communal elements in the society to creep in and poison the situation. We have to be very alert in dealing with such issues,” the Jesuit priest said.
Fr. Edwin said that the Church has always spelt out respect for other religions, their rights and rituals and such incidents should not be given a religious dimension which could lead to disrespect of other faiths.