The testimony of Fr. Carlo Torriani, in India for 50 years. Institutes are closed over bureaucracy. Hindu radicals accuse teachers of forced conversions. The real purpose of nationalists is to stain the image of the Church. The Hindus want to curb the Dalit's social advancement educated by Catholics and to perpetuate the caste system.
New Delhi (AsiaNews) - The Hindu Radicals intimidation of "Catholic schools has a definite purpose: to strike the jewel of Christian presence in India, “ says PIME missionary Fr. Carlo Torriani. The priest who has spent almost 50 years in India was commenting to AsiaNews, on the affair of the closure of the Catholic college that housed poor children in Madhya Pradesh.
Starting from that episode, Fr. Torriani traces the continued Hindu abuses of Christian schools in the country. For the priest, the true aim of the attacks that also target Catholic administrators accusing them of forced conversions is "to inflate the image of the Catholic Church and to curb its work with the poor, tribal and dalit".
A teacher from Mumbai (asking for anonymity) intervenes on the Dalit question, adding: "Christians support equality among all men and women. In India, the caste system has been in force for centuries. " Although abolished by the Constitution, social discrimination based on the caste hierarchy is still very strong across the territory. Dalies are relegated to humble jobs, the former "untouchables" find it difficult to find decent jobs and be admitted to schools.
But something is changing, thanks to the work of the Church. This, suggests Fr. Torriani, is key to understanding the attempts of local governments to close Catholic institutions. "By eliminating discrimination, he says, the social hierarchy on which India has been rooted for many years is being eroded."
One student agrees: "Christians are opposed to the hegemony of the caste and raise consciousness of their value among the oppressed peoples. But for the central government, led by a Hindu nationalist party Bjp (Bharatiya Janata Party), this equality creates confusion, while it wants to perpetuate the division of society and the upper caste’s exploitation of the lower ones. "
Targeting the schools, continue Fr. Torriani, "wants to question the jewel of Church activity in India. Almost all parishes have an educational center, which reaches much larger sections of the population than the faithful who go to church. The demand for education in India is very strong. Everyone wants to send their children to school because they know their future comes from education. And the Catholic schools are the most respected, wellknown and efficient ones. " Unfortunately, he continues, "the central government does nothing to curb the extremists. In turn, the latter are strengthened by the protection of authorities. "
A former Catholic school teacher explains that "state administrations often send their own controllers to verify the conditions of schools. They use futile bureaucratic holes to denounce a malfunction and force it to close. But this is just vengeance. " Then he launches an invitation: "Come and see how the state schools are reduced. There are no classrooms, benches, lights or fans. Of the total Catholic schools, at least 75% comply with all standards. And those that are not in accordance with small formalities are still better than state schools. "
Hindus of the upper caste, concludes Fr. Torriani, "feel threatened by this Dalit advancement in school, work, and employment. They see in this social progress of Dalits, made possible by education, a threat to economic positions and privileges they have always enjoyed. "
In Maharashtra the former untouchables block the city of Mumbai. Hindu radicals "try to repress them with violence because they do not believe in the equality of people". About 201 million Dalits live in India, out of a population of 1.2 billion.