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Sunday, May 26, 2024

Sikh boy (14) coerced to accept Christianity, threatened to have his hair cut forcibly when he refused: Ahmednagar

A 14-year-old Sikh boy was coerced to convert to Christianity in Maharashtra’s Ahmednagar. The boy is a student at De Paul English Medium School. His hair was cut and pagdi was thrown away after he refused to convert.

According to reports, an FIR has been registered by the Rahuri police against the accused Father James. Legal Rights Organization (LRO), a body fighting for the rights of indigenous communities, has also brought the matter to the attention of the child rights organization NCPCR (National Commission for Protection of Child Rights).

The accused have been booked under IPC Sections 295A (deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs), 298 (uttering, words, etc., with deliberate intent to wound the religious feelings of any person), 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence), and 506 (punishment for criminal intimidation) in FIR number (1241) registered on December 1.

In his complaint, the boy highlighted that he lives with his mother, sister, and grandparents while adding that he lost his father five years ago due to a heart attack. He is a student of class nine at De Paul English Medium School. Father Santo is the principal and Father James is the deputy principal.

He also narrated his ordeal and said one afternoon in August, one of the teachers Ruby asked him to take off his Kada (bangle worn by Sikhs) but the boy refused to do so since it was an important part of Sikhism. The teacher sent him to obtain Principal Father Santo’s permission if he wanted to continue wearing the Kada. The Principal refused to grant permission and asked him to bring his parents to school the next day. Accordingly, the boy took his uncle Rupindersingh Kathuria to the school who explained the importance of the Kada and subsequently, the Principal granted permission.

On November 30, Father James spotted him and asked his name. He then pointed towards his Pagdi and asked him to get rid of it as well as cut his hair just like the other students. Father James also told him to convert to Christianity. The boy refused to do James’ bidding and said he would neither cut his hair nor embrace Christianity. His complaint highlights hearing his reply Father James shouted at him and was about to hit him but he ran into the classroom.

James caught up with the student and told him that if he ever got cancer then he would have to cut his hair off. Instead, he should accept Christianity and do away with his hair and Pagdi now. “Under no circumstances would I leave my religion and cut my hair”, the student replied.

Initially, he didn’t tell anything to his family as he was very disturbed. However, once he regained composure he narrated the entire sequence of events to his grandmother and mother. His mother and grandmother informed the student’s uncle who took the boy to the police station to register a complaint against the accused.

(Featured Image Source: LRO’s Twitter account)

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