Published on: 5:43 pm, March 8, 2016 Story By: Mattersindia.com reporter
Raipur: Christians in the central Indian state of Chhattisgarh live under fear after a spate of attacks targeting them and their institutions.
“The Christian community lives under constant fear and we do not know what to do when law enforcement agencies adopt a such a partisan role,” laments Fr Sebastian Poomattam, vicar general and spokesperson of the archdiocese of Raipur.
Castigating the state government machinery for its partisan role, the priest said, “It is continuation of the ongoing well orchestrated attack on Christians and minorities in the state.”
In the latest attack, groups allegedly associated with some hard-line Hindu groups, attacked a Pentecostal prayer meeting in the state capital of Raipur on March 6 and vandalized the prayer hall. They also misbehaved with the women.
Police have arrested nine persons in this connection.
On the same day night, miscreants threw bricks at a shrine in front of Mar Gregorios Memorial Senior Secondary School in Bhilai and broke its glasses. School officials said the attackers on two-wheelers and ran away when the guard raised an alarm.
The same school has been facing continuance harassment from Hindu hardliners and the official machinery after one of its sweepers was arrested following allegation that he molested a girl student, officials say.
“The school authorities handed over the alleged culprit the same day (February 25) to the police when the principal came to know the incident,” diocesan spokesperson Father Joshi Varghese told Matters India.
On the same day right wing Hindu activists ransacked the office of the school and manhandled the office staff including a female receptionist, the priest added.
The police arrested two women who taught in the pre-primary section on February 26. They are languishing in jail since then after the trial court refused them bail.
The teachers are charged under the stringent law – Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO Act) 2012 – enacted to protect the children from sexual abuse and sexual exploitation.
The teachers do not face the charge of sexual exploitation but “negligence.” As per the law, it is mandatory on the part of the teachers and school management to inform the police about sexual abuse of children in their schools, as soon as they come to know.
The police arrested the teachers after some other parents complained that the same sweeper had abused their children too and that they had reported the matter to the teachers. However, the teachers did not take any action, the parents complained.
The police are now pressing the same charge against school principal Father V Daniel and the secretary of the school managing committee. Now the school management is gearing up to move an anticipatory bail before the Chhattisgarh High Court after its effort obtain bail from the trial court failed.
The investigation officer, Monika Pandey has confirmed that the school principal has also been booked under the relevant Sections of the POSCO Act. She, however, refused divulge any further details.
Meanwhile, Anil Jaiswal general secretary of the District Parents Teachers Association dismissed the case as artificial“It is an attempt to defame the school, which is serving the people of area since 50-years without any blemish,” said Jaiswal, who is a lawyer.
He says it was not proper to blame the school for the children’s abuse as the management had handed over to the police the alleged offender.,
According to him, media, some private schools, and right wing Hindu activists have ganged up to malign the Christian school.
Castigating the state government machinery for its partisan role, Vicar General and Spokesperson of Raipur Archdiocese father Sebastian Poomattam, said, “It is continuation of the ongoing well orchestrated attack on Christians and minorities in the state.”
“The worst part of such attacks,” he says “the administration is always very callous toward the complaints of victimized Christians and more often the victim gets harassed from the administration rather than the attackers.”
The priest also laments that the administration’s collusion with the law breakers has led to increase in crimes. Even after lodging complaints with proof no one is punished. The culprits roam around even after attacks, he added.
Christian leaders say, nun was raped, Christian priests and nuns were sent to jail on false charges. They are also victims of violent attacks on them and their institutions.