No 'Fathers' allowed: VHP's new rule for missionary schools in Bastar

In its latest aggressive stand against religious minorities in the country, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad has forced students of Catholic schools in Chhattisgarh's tribal region of Bastar to address the principal not as Father but as pracharya, or up-pracharya, or sir.

The VHP said there was no reason why the principal should be addressed as father when other English medium schools in the state do not do so.

"In other English-medium schools, no one uses Father for teacher. Why only here? Addressing a teacher as father puts emotional pressure on students and their parents," VHP leader Suresh Yadav told the Indian Express.

Under pressure, the missionary organisations, in a joint-meeting with the VHP, have signed a joint statement agreeing to the demand. They have also agreed to install statues of 'Ma Saraswati' along with portraits of “great personalities who have worked for national interest.”

. The school authorities though maintain that they already have images of Saraswati in their premises. The cause for the latest standoff between the Church and VHP leaders was a remark made by the region's bishop who said that the Christian community should ensure that a missionary school is established in every church in the area.

According to The Indian Express, the church was then forced to issue a statement saying that it was sorry if it hurt the sentiments of any religious community, adding that they were not going to implement the suggestion.

But the right-wing organisation's anti-missionary stand is not new to the region. In May this year, the VHP pushed for a ban on the entry of any non-Hindu religious leaders into about fifty villages in the district. Christian organisations in the state then moved the high court after panchayats in the tribal region adopted the resolution under section 129 (G) of Chhattisgarh Panchayati Raj Act 1994.

The resolution stated: "To stop the forced conversion by some outsider religious campaigners and to prevent them from using derogatory language against Hindu deities and customs, the Sirisguda Gram Sabha (and others) bans religious activities such as prayers, meetings and propaganda of all non-Hindu religions," The Times of India reported.

"They refused donations and used derogatory language against Hindu gods so we banned them," claimed Sirisguda sarpanch Jamuna Baghel.

Those who converted to Christianity had also complained of being denied ration by authorities. "It’s been over two months now that we have been denied ration in the village and 10 Christians were attacked when they went to collect ration," Sonuru Mandavi, whose family converted to Christianity in 2002, told The Hindu earlier this year. [COURTESY: FIRST POST]