New Delhi (Agenzia Fides) - Church leaders in Madhya Pradesh, central India, have withdrawn a legal appeal filed in recent days at Madhya Pradesh High Court against a group of radical Hindu groups who had tried to enter the Catholic college of St. Mary to carry out Hindu rituals (see Fides 4/1, 9/1 and 17/1 2018).
Christians in Madhya Pradesh have recently experienced a difficult period. Hindu fundamentalist groups have set their sights on St. Mary's College in Vidisha. In recent weeks, young people of the "Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad" (ABVP) movement, student body of the "Bharatiya Janata Party" (BJP), and other organizations with similar ideas have threatened to execute by force the "Aarti di Bharat Mata" rite ("Incense to Mother India") on the premises of the college.
After the complaint of the local Christians, the district magistrate denied these groups the permission to perform the rite and ordered the establishment of law enforcement in front of the campus, which takes care of the education for over 9,500 students.
As Catholic leaders responsible of the College confirm to Fides, "the Federal Ministry of the Interior, the state government of Madhya Pradesh, the state and the local police acted effectively, providing full protection of the college". The offensive messages and threats to the college, however, have not finished. Because of the repeated threats, the leaders of St. Mary's College were forced to file a complaint before Madhya Pradesh High Court to constitutionally obtain guaranteed rights. And the High Court accepted the request, ensuring the protection of those principles. The leaders of the Catholic Church have also sent letters to various ministers and political exponents, members of the BJP, asking to bring serenity to the area.
"We are pleased to say that, as assured by the Advocate General of the High Court, the State has acted in a fair manner and has taken measures to provide protection to our institute in Vidisha", said to Agenzia Fides Archbishop Leo Cornelio SVD, at the head of the diocese of Bhopal, president of the Regional Council of the Bishops of Madhya Pradesh. "Thanks to the decisive action of the police, the crowd was not able to complete the desired violent plan", he notes. Considering the support of the authorities, the leaders of St. Mary's College "have decided to withdraw the appeal presented to the Madhya Pradesh High Court", confirms Archbishop Cornelius to Fides, as a sign of good will and pacification. "We express gratitude to all state authorities who demonstrated the political will and courage to protect our Constitution and democratic rights", says Bishop of Sagar Anthony Chirayath, president of the "St. Mary's College Educational Society" to Fides. "Our staff and students feel relieved and wish to continue the educational task entrusted to them peacefully", notes Fr. Devassy, Director of the College (SD) (Agenzia Fides, 23/1/2018)