Pro-Hindutva outfit in Aligarh, Hindu Jagran Manch has warned Christian schools against celebrating Christmas. Talking to NewsClick, Mr. Sonu Savita, Aligarh president of HJM said that they “won’t allow Christian schools to make their Hindu students celebrate Christmas”.
He added that celebrating Christmas is a "ploy to lure and convert Hindu children" by the Christian schools.
This comes days after a Muslim corporator from Bahujan Samaj Party in Aligarh was thrashed by BJP leaders, and later booked by the police for “hurting religious sentiments” after he took oath in Urdu.
“Our argument is quite simple and straight forward. Why these schools make their Hindu students celebrate Christmas? All these schools survive because of Hindu students. No school has majority of Christian students. So, we would not let these missionary schools where Hindu students are in majority, celebrate Christmas,” he told NewsClick.
“Our sources have informed us that Christian schools ask their students to bring toys, gifts and celebrate Christmas. We believe that celebrating Christmas is just a ploy of these schools to lure and attract Hindu kids towards Christianity. It is almost akin to forced conversion,” the Hindutva leader alleged.
The missionary schools of Aligarh rejected the allegation of conversion. SN Singh, director of Aligarh's Ingraham Institute told the media that no student was forced to celebrate any festival.
Aligarh SSP Rajesh Pandey told NewsClick that the police would not let anyone take law and order in their hands. “We will not let anyone violate law and order and disturb peace. Action will be taken against anyone who tries to do that. We will also take action once we receive any complaint regarding this,” he said.
Different groups from minority communities living in Uttar Pradesh have come under severe attack from Hindu extremist groups like Bajrang Dal, Hindu Yuva Vahini, Hindu Jagran Manch, Vishwa Hindu Parishad, all owing allegiance to or supporters of the Rashtriya Sawanyamsevak Sangh (RSS) have been attacking minorities' rights to practice their religion, a right which has been enshrined in the Constitution. Such incidents have increased ever since BJP govt. under Yogi Adityanath took power in UP in March this year.
The State secretary of HJM Sanju Bajaj told NewsClick that HJM volunteers have started approaching parents whose kids study in Christian schools, to convince them to oppose attempt to convert their kids. “We have approached several parents who are part of parents association. They have expressed their support to us. They told us that they would not let their kids become Christian. As Christmas approaches we will organise many small meetings to spread the word further,” Bajaj added.
He said that HJM will hold protest if the Christian schools go ahead with their plan to celebrate Christmas.
Responding to the threats of HJM many of the Christian schools said that they would ask the local administration to provide police protection during the festival.
The threat from HJM comes two weeks after a group of Christians were attacked by Hindutva groups and latter arrested by the police for praying inside their house in Mathura. Mamta, a Christian resident of Irauli Gurjar village of Mathura, had invited fellow Christians in her house and was holding a prayer on December 5 when they were attacked by her Hindu relatives who had also called Hindutva groups.
On the basis of complaint filed by Mamta's relative seven people were arrested on charges of converting people whereas she denied any conversion bid. They were booked under IPC Section 295A (deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings). The arrested people were sent to 14-das of judicial custody by the local Mathura court. They are yet to be granted bail by the court.
Pramod Singh from Christian Legal Association who is looking after the case said that these are attempts to spread fear among the minorities and make them feel like second class citizens.”
“All that these people were doing in Mamta's house was holding prayer when they were attacked by Hindutva goons and arrested by the police. Since when holding prayer and practicing one's own religion became illegal in this country,” he told NewsClick.