Loyola College management, – a catholic educational institution run by the Society of Jesus, has once again been at the centre of controversy. This time voices from its communities demanded Central Government intervention to end the undesirable happenings in one of the prestigious educational of Chennai.
The college, founded in 1925 by Francis Bertram, a French Jesuit priest and other European Jesuits, is autonomous and affiliated with the University of Madras.
It all started on April 19 this year, with the announcement from Loyola College on its official website appointing a new Rector for its campus. A circular issued in this regard carrying the signature of the outgoing Rector, Fr Francis Xavier, said, “Fr General of the Society of Jesus has appointed Fr Antony Robinson SJ the Rector of Loyola Campus, Chennai”.
According to Abhinav Vinayak, a freelance investigative journalist, who has been bringing it out the murky affairs of the institution regularly, including misappropriation of UGC funds, sexual assaults on faculty members etc. Organiser Weekly has been carrying articles quoting him on Loyola’s happenings and unlawful activities.
Abhinav Vinayak, in his complaint to the Chairman of UGC, had stated that the two individuals who orchestrated the scam are now in senior positions at Loyola College Chennai, with Dr M. Selvanayagam being promoted to Head of Research of LICET Loyola I-Cam College of Engineering and Technology and Fr Francis P Xavier serving as rector. Abhinav, who interviewed Rev Fr. Albert Muthumalai, quoted him as saying,” such a great institution meant to educate students, with high ethics and moral values has become a den of unquestionable corruption.”
“While several victims of Jesuits abuse in Loyola College have gone on record and stated that kangaroo courts were setup, fake witnesses were allegedly planted and the institution used its alumnus as mercenaries against anyone who questioned their crimes, Loyola College appeared to play down the facts in ways that soft-pedaled the Rectors’ guilt” note a Loyola Alumnus.
R Joseph Kennedy, Ending Clergy Abuse (ECA) India Representative and Alumnus of the prestigious Loyola College, Chennai, took to social media and lashed out at the Jesuit authorities.
In a scathing post, he raised concerns about Loyola College policing itself and demanded the intervention of the Government of India. “The Rector of Loyola College, despite being at the epicentre of a major corruption scandal involving crores of rupees of taxpayers’ money is granted a free pass. WOW!” Kennedy said.
Even though the whistleblower is a well-known Jesuit priest and former Principal of Loyola College, the institutional conspiracy of silence and the refusal to make files public now seem confirmed by the intervention of the Jesuit Curia in Rome to appoint a new Rector of Loyola College, which is unprecedented and has never happened in the history of the institution.”
“In Dec 2022, I submitted a 41 Page report to the University Grants Commission of India titled ‘Loyola College, Chennai is at a Dangerous Inflection Point and granting University status will be extremely suicidal for India as a nation and the Christian Faithful’ #LoyolaFiles. Loyola College has been unwilling to investigate this mega maha scandal. This is exactly what happens when you allow Loyola College to police itself. Corrupt Jesuit leaders cannot be trusted to deliver justice; and the Government of India must step in.”
Another Christian activist and Nationalist, Robert Rosario, demanded, “Government must investigate to unearth all Scandals and punish the culprits”.
In an interview with Thamarai TV, Lawrence D’Cruz narrated an incident that occurred at Perambur Don Bosco School two years ago. He said, “under the guise of providing free education to Tamil medium students, the school’s principal, Brother Anand, doubled the fees for English medium students. However, on record, he only showed the fees before the hike, and he illegally amassed Rs 1.5 crores. Don Bosco’s alumni association committee, which has been dominated by the same set of people for the past 15 years, is also involved in the crime. People from the association, in particular David Selvam, David, Panneerselvan, and, most importantly, Vincent, are more involved in this corruption. We initially assumed that the money had been misappropriated by the Alumni Association, but we later learned that Principal Anand Raj was involved.” He said, “When we brought this to the attention of Father Jose, Provincial of Salesian Society (a Roman Catholic congregation similar to the Jesuits and others), and the principal Anand was transferred to another Don Bosco school near Karnataka as a punishment post.”
Lawrence, in the interview, alleged, “Father Thomas Amirtham, the principal of Loyola, is a fraudster, as is Father Anand Raj, the principal of Don Bosco. As a result, they banded together. Father Thomas Amirtham was against me because I exposed his corruption as Principal of Loyola College while working as his personal assistant for ten years.”
He said, “Father Thomas Amirtham looted money by getting money/donations for admissions to Loyola Arts and Science College despite telling management that he would not be collecting money for admissions that year. When I told Father Thomas Amirtham that what he was doing was wrong, he abused me by referring to my caste and claiming that those who belong to that caste will have this attitude. Even when people convert to Christianity, they bring their caste hegemony with them. Even though I was a Christian, he abused me as he belonged to a higher caste. When this happened, I filed a complaint with the Vatican’s General of the Jesuits (a religious order). They threatened me to withdraw my complaints after knowing about my complaint.”
Earlier in June 2021, former Students of the Don Bosco Matriculation Higher Secondary School, Egmore, took to social media to expose the election fraud and gross mismanagement in their Past Pupils Association. Several former students took to social media and called out all the irregularities in the association.
In March this year, it landed in a fresh controversy by going against its pledge of paying Rs One crore as compensation for the student’s death due to its alleged negligence and violation of the law.
Loyola College could not get University status for failure to produce parent document of the land where it is housed and charges of misappropriation of University Grants Commission (UGC) funds; Serious questions were raised regarding the appointment of the current Loyola College, Principal – Fr. Thomas Amirtham who is also the Director of Alumni Association. It is alleged that the management of Loyola College has violated UGC/AICTE guidelines to appoint an individual of a particular ‘caste conveniently’.
Lawrence D’Cruz, a former student of Loyola College, complained that he was abused for being a “Dalit” Christian, made to do menial jobs like cleaning food plates and toilets and terminated without notice. Lawrence also alleged that his superiors sexually abused him.
Loyola College, Chennai cannot Police Itself.
The Rector of @lcchennai, despite being at the epicenter of a major corruption scandal involving crores of rupees of taxpayers' money is granted a free pass. WOW!
— Joseph Kennedy | ஜோசப் கென்னடி (@bluebugs_) April 20, 2023
It is alleged that Loyola College did not conduct any investigation to punish those who committed the crime did not go well with Christian activists. Former women staff who made out sexual assault charges are still knocking at the doors of the temple of justice. They allege that things are moving at a snail’s pace due to its influence. It is learnt the management is trying to scuttle their efforts of victims and issue threats to their life besides blackmailing them to withdraw complaints.