On March 25, members of Madhya Pradesh State Protection for Child Rights (MP-SCPCR), during a surprise inspection drive at a missionary school found illegal stuff from the principal’s office. A FIR has been registered against the Father of the school, and further investigations are underway.
The SCPCR member Nivedita Sharma went on a surprise inspection drive at Saint Merry school on March 25. The inspection drive revealed that the principal had reserves of alcohol and contraceptives. After this, a FIR was registered.
The FIR raises suspicion on the Father and the Principal
A First Information Report (number–391/2023) was registered at the civil lines police station of the Morena district of Madhya Pradesh. The District Educational Officer, Morena, AK Pathak in the complaint stated that;
Around 12 pm on March 25, the members of MP Protection of Child Rights made a surprise inspection drive at Saint Mary school located on the Agra-Bombay road. In this drive, Sharma was accompanied by Mahendra Singh and Child Welfare Commission Alok Rajawat.
During the inspection, the members of MP SCPCR found that rooms adjoining the library and classrooms are used for residential purposes. Wherein a classroom was transformed into a kitchen while the other four rooms were used as bedrooms. The principal and the Father of the school Rafale Dialicisious used to stay there.
The teams found several bottles of alcohol and unused contraceptives (condoms) in their rooms. It is to be noted that the children’s classrooms were highly accessible from these classrooms. The principal’s residence had multiple entrance and exit doors, which raise suspicion. Also, there were gas cylinders installed next to student classrooms which is a breach of CBSC board guidelines.
While the officials were conducting the drive the school authorities threatened them of dire consequences and interrupted the proceedings.
The accused Rafale Dialicisious was booked under IPC sections 353 (using assault at a public servant) and 506 (criminal intimidation).
What the investigating team told Organiser Weekly
The MP SCPCR member Nivedita Sharma told Organiser Weekly that, during the inspection drive they found bottles of alcohol in large numbers (She said there was a packed cartoon). Contraceptives (condoms) were also recovered.
Apart from this, the team found religious books and materials used for baptism on campus. The campus had a church, whose permits and documents are missing. We suspect the school was involved in illegal conversion activities, said Sharma.
She added, no school can have residential space without permission, here the principal and managers are living next to classrooms. The exist to these residential rooms open at the classrooms directly, which seems fishy. There were as many as twelve to fifteen beds lying on the rooms, which also raises suspicion. No working cameras were installed at this section of the school building.
As of now the collector has ordered to seal the school premises, things will get clear only after further investigations are done.
There were copies of religious texts and Bibles in very large numbers. This is a missionary school so texts like these are expected but in such numbers, raise suspicion, said Sharma.
She added, the statements of the students, especially girls students will be crucial in this case.
The Chairperson for Madhya Pradesh SCPCR, Onkar Singh told Organiser that he will be visiting Morena and the Sain Merry school tomorrow (march 27). His drive will be focused on the illegal conversion activities operating from the school and the principal’s behaviour with the girl’s students.
Two incidents of conversion and sexual abuse were reported from missionary school’s in MP
This is not the only incident where irregularities have been reported at a missionary school or their authorities. In the month of March itself, two different incidents have been reported in different districts of Madhya Pradesh.
The Dindori Case
On March 3, members of the state child commission and the Child Welfare Commission Dindori did a surprise inspection at a missionary school (JDES convent) and the hostel located in the Junwani village. Students reporting the case were mostly Tribals.
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.
A First Information Report (number–00/2023) was registered by CWC chairperson Dindori in this case at the Mahila Thana Dindori on March 4 under sections 354, 354(a)(1) i, 323, 34 with sections 7/ 8 of the POCSO Act and sections 75 and 82 of the Juvenile Justice Act.
Even after the statements of the victims and the complaint by the CWC members and MP SCPCR members, no action was taken by the authorities. Due to the lackadaisical police behaviour and administrative failure, the Chairperson for the National Protection of Child Rights, Priyank Kanoongo visited the town.
In his single visit, as many as seven FIRs were registered against the authorities.
After the visit, Kanoongo told Organiser, “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 and whatnot”.
This correspondent accessed the statements of 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 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.
Readers may find the ground report on this case by Organiser Weekly here.
The Mandla Case
On March 8, a FIR was registered against the authorities of the Missionary school in the Mandla district of Madhya Pradesh. Members of MP SCPCR and Chairperson Onkar Singh did a surprise inspection drive at various schools and hostels in the area. During the drive, they found irregularities at the Saint Joseph hostel. The students also reported forced religious conversions by the authorities.
A First Information Report (number–12/2023) was registered at the Mavai police station of Mandla district. In this complaint, Yogesh Parasher, a member of the district Child Welfare Committee (CWC) told the police that, with Chairperson SCPCR and other members they were inspecting schools and hostels of the Ghoreghat–Tabalpani area on March 2.
In this regard, they met Tribal students (12 boys and 18 girls) living at the Saint Joseph hostel. The conditions of the rooms, they were living in were vulnerable. The hostel did not have basic facilities of water supply, fan and coolers, bedsheets and others. The washrooms were unhygienic.
The students told the CWC and SCPCR members that the school authorities ask them to wake up at 5 and then come to the church for prayer. These students were all Tribals, still, they were forced to follow Christian religious practices. The students were asked to rear cattle including goats for the school.
After the complaint the accused authorities namely Father JB Sebastian were booked under IPC sections 374 (forced labour), 34 (acts done by several persons with common intent) with sections 42 and 75 of the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015. Furthermore sections 3 / 5 and 11 (1) of the Madhya Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act, 2021 were also imposed. With this sections 3(1)(h) and 3(2)(v) of the SC-ST Act and sections 3 and 14 of the Child Labour Act, 1986 were imposed.
Repeated cases of Child abuse and forced religious conversions at the schools and hostels run by the missionary institutions are alarming. There needs to be a detailed inspection of such institutions, especially in Madhya Pradesh.
Notably, in all these cases there were problems with the permits, these institutions were taking government funds and using them for conversion activities. There have been cases of baptism and abuse. This raises alarming questions on the authorities.