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Gujarat asks Christian schools 'to explain!'

Memories of the Gujarat Government’s controversial circular, seeking the antecedents of Christian institutions two years ago, were resurrected for Christian schools in the State early this month. They received a circular from District Education Officers seeking details about their country affiliations and foreign funds.

Three schools in and around Gandhinagar are among the first to receive the circular which attaches a letter sent by the Union Human Resources Ministry stating that such a question was raised in the Lok Sabha on 1 August. The circular, signed by the Gandhinagar DEO, asks the schools to send in the necessary information by 10 August itself.

The letter asks the Secretary of the State Education Department to furnish details about the number of missionary schools in Gujarat, and the ‘names of the countries to whom these educational institutions belong alongwith the amount of annual assistance received from these countries, the Union and the state governments.’

The letter states that the question was raised in the Lok Sabha by MP Manihrao Hodlya Gavit, bearing number Dy. No. 4367 for 1 August 2000. The question seeks details of all institutions in the country.

The schools that received the letter include St Xaviers’ School and Mount Carmel School in Gandhinagar and St Xavier’s School in the neighbouring Kalol town. ‘We are not shocked so much that such a question was being asked, but that the government that is supposed to have all this information is asking us to send the details,’ said Father Hector Pinto, principal of St. Xavier’s School in Gandhinagar. He added that all Christian high schools in Gujarat were grant-in-aid schools, obviously set up with the government’s permission. ‘The government is quite aware that we receive funds from them, so the government also knows the number of Christian schools in the State. Is this anything else but harassment?’ wondered Father Pinto.

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