Bastar, Nov 24: In the tribal district of Bastar in Chhattisgarh, the Catholic missionaries are under intense pressure from the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, a Hind right-wing organisation, to implement a number of changes in the schools run by the Christian diocese, said an Indian Express report.
As per the demands of VHP, the missionaries have now agreed that instead of the word "Father", students will now on use the word "Pracharya", or "Up-pracharya", or "Sir" to address school principal. Also, photographs of "Maa Saraswati" and "great personalities who have worked for national interest" will be put up in classrooms.
According to a pact jointly signed by Bastar district VHP president Suresh Yadav and the spokesperson of the Bastar Catholic Community, Abraham Kannampala, "notice boards and assemblies of all Catholic educational institutions of Bastar" should specify that instead of "Father", principals be addressed as Pracharya or Up-Pracharya or Sir.
A statement issued by the Catholic missionaries adds, "The Catholic community expresses regret if any community, religion or society was hurt by our community."
In Bastar, a district which spreads over an area bigger than Kerala, the Catholic missionaries run 22 schools.'
The right-wing Hindu organisation has been targeting the missionaries for long over issues like religious conversion. The organisation which has gathered a new momentum after BJP took over the rule at the Centre has been organising "Ghar Vapasi" programmes in interior villages in Bastar to reconvert neo-Christians.
Last week, during an address in Bastar, the Bishop of Jagdalpur church had said that a missionary school should be established with every church in the region. This enraged the VHP which immediately sent a letter to the Bastar Commissioner, Chief Minister Raman Singh and the Governor accusing the Church of trying to promote communalism and narrow-mindedness.