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Indian Catholic school in strife for 'hurting religious feelings'

Claims by three Hindu teachers are an attempt to tarnish the school's image, says priest

October 12, 2016

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A Catholic school in the western Indian state of Madhya Pradesh is being investigated after three Hindu teachers complained against the school's authorities for allegedly hurting their religious sentiments.

The administration of Dewas district in the state Oct. 7 ordered a probe by an education officer into the allegations against the Holy Trinity School.

The teachers — Sujata Sharma, Sheetal Goswami and Shirish Chandolikar — said the school management stopped them from singing "Saraswati Vandana" (a hymn praising the Hindu goddess of knowledge Saraswati) and removed a portrait of the goddess from the school notice board.

The teachers also accused the school management of threatening the trio with dismissal.

School management has said the allegations are baseless and they have cooperated with the investigating team.

"The teachers who accused the school management of removing the portrait of the goddess were seen themselves removing it in the CCTV footage, which was also handed over to the investigating team," said Father Mathew Kadavanal, manager of the school that has 1,600 pupils.

The priest viewed the allegations as a deliberate attempt to tarnish the image of the school.

Father Kadavanal also said that one of the complainants — Sujata Sharma — had accused the school management of forcible conversion around five years ago but could not prove the charge.

"We did not terminate her employment but instead allowed her to continue as the management is not harsh with the staff and sees them as part of one family," he said.

News of the issue also spread resulting in members of a student wing of the ruling pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party in the state staging a protest in front of the school.

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