Hours after The Indian Express reported that educational institutions run by Christian missionaries in some districts of Chhattisgarh had been asked by the administration to “ban the use of Father” in their schools, one district has withdrawn the order.
On Thursday, The Indian Express had reported that the district education officer of Mahasamund had, in a circular issued on May 11, asked 14 missionary schools in the area to “immediately stop the use of Father for the head of the institution” and follow “pracharya” or “sir”. The letter was approved by the collector and a copy of the letter was marked to Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP).
But Mahasamund collector Umesh Agrawal claimed the “order was issued by mistake”. “When it came to my notice, I asked the education officer to withdraw it,” he said. Incidentally, Agrawal had defended the order Thursday: “There have been complaints about students being compelled to address teachers as Father. No one can compel anyone in this way.”
Reacting to the order, Chhattisgarh Christian Forum president Arun Pannalal had said: “They are using the administration to destroy our institutions.”
In February, Kanker district administration had issued a similar order and a copy of that order was sent to the district’s VHP offices as well.
Last November, Catholic educational institutions in Bastar, reportedly under intense pressure from the VHP, had agreed that principals of their schools would be addressed as “pracharya”, or “up-pracharya”, or “sir”.