Conversion issue: Why St Stephen's College has banned entry for media?

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New Delhi, Dec 19: Delhi's St Stephen's College has banned entry to media persons inside its campus after the college administration landed into a massive row following suspension and alleged forced conversion of an administrative officer to Christianity by its principal, Valson Thampu.

St Stephen's College revoked the suspension of an administrative officer, Subhash Kumar Dash, after acting against him last week for alleged 'misconduct'. Challenging his suspension Dash filed a plea before Delhi High Court, following which college administration revoked its previous order against Dash. [DU's St Stephen's College Principal forced staffer to convert to Christianity: Report]

Why media banned in Delhi's St Stephen?
OneIndia News on Friday went to St Stephen's College to talk to the administration about the controversy and the sudden u-turn, but the college guards did not allow OneIndia's reporters to enter the premises saying media's entry is banned till further orders in the campus.

When asked about the reason for not letting them in, the guards said, "We have been ordered to not allow media persons inside. We don't know the reason. We have been ordered not to let any reporter/media person in and we are just following those orders. "

Without giving any valid reason or showing proper notice, the guards locked the college gates. When OneIndia News tried contacting St Stephen's College the call went unanswered.

Thampu in an official communication to Dash on Thursday said, "I revoke the suspension order served in order to make room for college Governing Body (GB) to take independent view of the matter pertaining to you (Dash). You shall, hence, rejoin duty with immediate effect."

The matter was scheduled to be discussed by the Governing Body today. The guards confirmed to OneIndia that the GB meet was held today, but so far the college administration has not revealed what was discussed in the meeting.

Dash, reportedly, moved High Court on Monday challenging his suspension and accusing St Stephen's principal Valson Thampu of trying to convert him to Christianity.

As per a report published in Millennium Post, Das, a Brahmin and a native of Odisha, on Oct 31 wrote, "I was induced for conversion by you (principal) in beginning of the year 2014 which I had taken serious objection to and pleaded with you not to force me for conversion. Your wife came to my residence and told my wife in evening hour not to disclose this matter as it may tarnish your image."

He further wrote, "In month of October 2014, you tried to offer me a mobile phone and told me that same mobile was given to you by previous Bishop which I did not accept and strongly objected and requested you not to force for conversion as I strongly believe in my Hindu religion and form of worship."

Dash has also alleged that the Principal threatened him of dire consequences for not abiding to his diktat of converting into Christianity.

As per a report published in TOI, Das also alleged that "Thampu gave his own example of converting to Christianity despite coming from an Iyengar Brahmin family."

Dash was suspended by Valson on charges of engaging in "gross misconduct" and sending derogatory and defamatory SMSes to the administration and to the college community under the influence of alcohol.

His petition in High Court, which was listed before Justice Hima Kohli, was yesterday transferred to another bench as the judge recused herself from hearing the matter since she was an alumna of St Stephen's.

Thampu has so far refused to comment on whether the U-turn had come after Dash also sought an injunction against any action by the GB.

Earlier on Thursday, Thampu had posted a series of SMSes exchanged between him, Dash and other members of the governing body on the college's website.

"It does not take any special expertise to know that such SMSes cannot be sent by a man in his senses. To add insult to injury, he has now accused me of trying to convert him forcibly," Thampu said.

"This is clearly an attempt to communalise the issue and to intimidate me. Communalism is utterly incompatible with the liberal, catholic ethos of St Stephen's College, which shall, in no wise, be compromised," he added.

Though it is too early to predict who's right and who's wrong but the college administration banning media persons and not attending phone calls certainly brings the principal's role under suspicion.

OneIndia News

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