A priest, a nun and the Principal and guest teacher of a Christian missionary school in Dindori, Madhya Pradesh were recently booked on the complaint of girl students that they were sexually assaulted and abused.
According to the Dindori Superintendent of Police Sanjay Singh, the 40-year-old principal and 35-year-old guest teacher were booked under section 354 (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty) of the Indian Penal Code, provisions of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act and Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act.
“The caretaker of the school, who is a 40-year-old priest, has been booked for overlooking the complaints of the girls, while the nun (35) has been charged with beating the girls. Only the principal has been arrested as yet,” he added.
The missionary school is situated in Junwani village, which has been run and managed by the Jabalpur Diocesan Education Society (JDES) of the Roman Catholic Christian community. Police has taken the action after the school visit of MP’s Child Protection Department members and officials.
The State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (SCPCR) inspected the JDES hostel few days back, where more than 600 students are residing. SCPCR member Omkar Singh stated, “When we visited the hostel, which is located in a forest, we found the students in very bad condition. During the discussion, eight girl students from classes 6 to 12 informed that the principal and the teacher used to touch their body parts by calling them alone in the classrooms.”
He added that the girls were in a bad state of mind and revealed that they were sexually exploited for past many years. “Some boys also hinted towards harassment with them, but they didn’t reveal much,” Singh added. According to Singh, the students have been sent to counselling and more details would be unearthed as the investigation proceeds.
Jabalpur Roman Catholic Diocese Bishop Gerald Almeida could not be contacted by media despite repeated attempts.
Shockingly, an Organiser report by journalist Subhi Vishwakarma dated March 10 states that the arrested Principal was released by the police! The report adds –
“After his release, the Chairperson of the National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), Priyank Kanoongo, visited the school. He met the victims and their family members to help them with the relocation. In his single visit, as many as seven FIRs were lodged against the culprits, involving the suspension of government officials. He also revelated that massive data pertaining to Baptism, which was recovered from the school documents, are yet to be investigated.
….The FIR is against four school authorities: Father (Sunny), teacher (Khemchandra), sister (Savita) and Principal (Nansingh Yadav). During this drive, the boys’ students told visitors about the physical assault and the vulnerable hostel conditions. At the same time, the girls told CWC about the sexual abuse by Nansingh Yadav and Khemchandra sir. Even after repeated complaints to the church father (Sunny Father), no action has been taken against the perpetrators, told the minors. In this complaint, the name of sister Savita was also mentioned, as she used to torture the minor girls in the hostel. Notably, this complaint was registered only after the NCPCR chairperson intervened in the matter.
…Soon after the inspection, the CWC members took these minors off the campus and shifted them to the One-Stop Centre located in the Dindori District on the same night (March 3). As many as eight minor girls were shifted from the hostel. Even after sufficient proof, no action was taken against the culprits and the police were not ready to register the complaint. Members of a regional political party, ‘Gondwana Gantantra Party’ assembled in front of the One-Stop Centre and threatened the CWC members. They did all of this to bring the girls back to the hostel. Namely, the chairperson of the party Aman Singh Porte and Radheshyam Kakodiya led the protests; during this they called a minor girl characterless and pronounced their name in front of the media. A separate case has been registered against them.
…Dindori, a district located in eastern Madhya Pradesh bordering Chhattisgarh. The district is one of the 250 most backward districts in the country. It is a tribal belt with the maximum population from the Baiga tribe. The other tribes include Gond, Bhariya, Dhuliya, Agariya and Vanvasi….Kanoongo met four minor girls and their family members near Samnapur’s One-Stop Centre. Among four girls, one was a ‘divyang’ child, and in fear of the church authorities, she was not ready to leave the hostel….
…the minor children on camera, where they told the CWC members that teacher Khemchandra used to press the breasts of the minor girls in class. He used to touch the part used for urination. He would ask them to bend down so that he can stand behind them. …Other than this, these students told the CWC members that they found a dead cat in the water tank used for drinking purposes. The students mostly remain ill due to the unhygienic practices followed by the school administration.
..The school was built over a huge land, almost an acre; as soon as one enters the premise, they can see a big church in front. ….Shockingly, irrespective of being a fully government-funded institution, the school was charging fees from the students. The hostel fee per month is rupees 1600 whereas the tuition fees are much high. Other than this, a register as proof of Baptism was also recovered.
…Kanoongo told Organiser Weekly, “We received a complaint from the minor girls that they were sexually abused by the school authorities. During the inspection, we also found records of conversion activities. After FIR in the said matter was registered the local political leaders issued threats to the CWC members. They even took the accused from the police custody with them.” He added, “The visit opened a pandora box as the school was receiving government aid for four hostels whereas in reality they only had two. They were charging money from students, abusing them sexually, were converting them to Christianity, the condition of the hostels were vulnerable, and students were forced to have low-quality food”.
The members of Tribal Welfare Departments were involved in the matter and hence asked the administration to take action against them, added Kanoongo. The collector suspended the Block Education Officer (BEO) of both the Tribal Welfare Department and the district-level BEO. He informed about the suspension of the Town Inspector (TI), in whose presence the accused principal was released.
…Apart from this, an FIR against Gondwana Gantrata’s Aman Singh Porte was registered under charges of POCSO and the Juvenile Justice Act for revealing the name of a minor victim in the media. Other than this four FIRs have been instituted against the school and church authorities for taking government grants illegally. Also, an FIR under IPC section 354 has been registered against goons who threatened CWC members at the One-Stop Centre on the intervening night of 4-5 March.
अप्डेट— प्रियंक कानूनगो Priyank Kanoongo (@KanoongoPriyank) March 8, 2023
डिंडोरी पुलिस ने वन स्टाप सेंटर के निदेशक की शिकायत पर उनकी सुरक्षा में रखी गयीं पीड़ित बच्चियों को जबरन वहाँ से ले जाने कोशिश करने की 5 मार्च की घटना पर गोंडवाना गणतंत्र पार्टी के प्रदेश अध्यक्ष अमान सिंह पोर्ते के विरुद्ध FIR दर्ज की है।
धन्यवाद @ChouhanShivraj जी https://t.co/bKGpDlPijq pic.twitter.com/R0IIqsQ81i
…While these officials were moving towards the hostel, the locals (mostly converted Christians) assembled at the campus and tried stopping them. They were trying to confront the minors saying the Church and its employees could not do any wrong with the children. …a woman named Chanda Kumari Baghel said, “We are here as the girls have falsely framed a case against Father and the principal. After Sunday prayers, the authorities told them about the case and then they decided to call for a protest against the commission.” Asked if her children studied at the school or live in the hostel she said, no. She is here just to register her protest against the minor girls who have falsely framed a case against the Principal. Asked how would she know what was going on in the hostel if none of her children studied there, she said she has full faith in the teachers; they are gods to them.
The NCPCR and CWC members brought sweets and colours for the children as it was the ‘Holi’ festival the next day. The students first said they were not allowed to celebrate Holi for it being a Missionary school. They said they cannot put ‘Teeka’ on the forehead as that too was not allowed. But the NCPCR and the CWC members counselled them and then the kids were overjoyed and played Holi with them.
It is pertinent to mention here that the correspondent checked the school diary, which noted the history of the Church and details of the founder. As per the information, the founder of the school and Church in Junwani was Father Pemence who was born and brought up in the Netherlands….Kanoongo, in his inspection, found details of Baptism from 1939. A school located at the heart of the tribal belt of Madhya Pradesh is into conversion since 1939. It needs to be inspected why the members of the Gondwana Gantantra party are trying to protect the molesters and abusers. They too are involved in the racket, or it is a bigger game.
..More than hundreds of families assembled there said they have converted to Christianity and had done it on their own. They regularly attend the prayer sessions; the women were wearing cross symbols with their nuptial chains and looking like any ordinary Hindu woman. Another alarming question is that these people are using their Dalit certificates to seek the benefits of government programmes but, on the ground, call themselves Christians. De-listing needs to be done. The students also select Christianity in the religion column but are members of ‘Tribal welfare groups’.”
Incidentally, the Gondwana Gantantra Party (GGP) had allied with the Samajwadi Party before the 2018 Madhya Pradesh assembly elections. Formed in 1991 by Hira Singh Markam, the GGP wants to establish a separate state of Gondwana in central Bharat.
One thing is certain, whatever their origins, all such parties/groups that claim to fight for the rights of janjatiya (tribal) people like Jharkhand Mukti Morcha, GGP, Tribal Army inadvertently turn anti-Dharmic over time and become conduits for Christian conversion mafia. They claim to fight for indegeneous religions like Sarna (JMM is demanding that a separate Sarna religion category be provided in the 2021 census) but are silent over the greatest threat facing Bharat’s janjatis – the Christian and Islamic missionaries.
Seen from that perspective, GGP coming out in defense of these abusive and predatory teachers and authorities of this missionary school in Dindori will not come as a surprise, and neither will the muted coverage of this story by India’s deracinated, Anglicized, Hinduphobic English-language media.