UCA News
Contribute

Posters targeting Christian schools reappear in India’s Assam

Demand for removal of religious symbols from Christian schools has surfaced yet again
Tribal people exchange goods with others using the ancient bartering system at a festival in Assam. Christians have been actively involved in imparting education for several decades in Assam’s remote areas where tribal people and Dalits or former untouchables live

Tribal people exchange goods with others using the ancient bartering system at a festival in Assam. Christians have been actively involved in imparting education for several decades in Assam’s remote areas where tribal people and Dalits or former untouchables live. (Photo: AFP)

Published: February 26, 2024 12:47 PM GMT
Updated: February 27, 2024 04:05 AM GMT

A poster demanding the removal of religious symbols from Christian schools has yet again surfaced in India’s northeastern Assam state, asserting it as the final warning.

The poster issued by Sanmilito Sanatan Samaj, a hardline Hindu outfit on Feb. 23, gave the ultimatum to remove statues and crosses from the premises of Christian-run schools in state's business capital Guwahati and two other major cities, Dibrugarh and Jorhat.

“This is the final warning to stop using schools as a religious institution. Remove Jesus Christ, Mary, etc, from school premises,” warned the latest poster in Assamese, the state's official language.

In Guwahati,  the posters appeared on the walls of Don Bosco School and St. Mary’s School. The poster asked missionaries not to turn education into a religious affair.

“I suspect this is the same group with a different name but the same demand. They may be trying our patience,” Archbishop John Moolachira of Guwahati told UCA News on Feb. 26.

In Dibrugarh, it was fixed on the walls of Don Bosco High School, and in Jorhat, the poster was found on the wall of Carmel School.

The posters were also found in Barpeta and Sivasagar towns.

Father Mathew Anchukandam, the archdiocesan vicar-general, said similar posters were found on Feb. 18 that forced Christian schools to seek police protection and file complaints with the state government, headed by the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The posters were issued by a pro-Hindu outfit called Kutumba Suraksha Parishad (family protection council), Father Anchukandam added.

The group has asked priests, nuns, and religious brothers not to wear their religious dress in schools.

“The poster campaign by Hindu groups poses a threat to educational institutions,” Father Anchukandam told UCA News.

The poster reappeared after the deadline set by the Hindu outfit, according to Church officials.

Christians have been actively involved in imparting education for several decades in Assam’s remote areas where tribal people and Dalits or former untouchables live.

The Kutumba Surakshya Parishad, led by Hindu activist Satya Ranjan Borah, came out with the poster after a teacher in Calvary English School at Khelmati in Sonitpur district allegedly reprimanded a 10-year-old student for chanting Jai Shri Ram (hail Lord Ram) in the classroom on Feb. 5.

“Our institutions have always respected all religions,” said Allen Brooks, spokesperson of the Assam Christian Forum (ACF), an inter-denominational Christian body.

Some Hindu outfits are asking Christians to arrange Hindu worship in schools, added Brooks.

“We reject these demands,” the ACF said in a statement.

Christians make up 3.74 percent of Assam’s 31 million people, higher than the national average of 2.3 percent.

Help UCA News to be independent
Dear reader,
Lent is the season during which catechumens make their final preparations to be welcomed into the Church.
Each year during Lent, UCA News presents the stories of people who will join the Church in proclaiming that Jesus Christ is their Lord. The stories of how women and men who will be baptized came to believe in Christ are inspirations for all of us as we prepare to celebrate the Church's chief feast.
Help us with your donations to bring such stories of faith that make a difference in the Church and society.
A small contribution of US$5 will support us continue our mission…
William J. Grimm
Publisher
UCA News
Asian Bishops
Latest News
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia