Karnataka school shut down following 'conversion' allegations; re-opens following media attention

The school is not run by Christian missionaries. It is run by some interested residents of Ilkal. 

Published: 31st December 2021 10:04 PM  |   Last Updated: 31st December 2021 10:04 PM   |  A+A-

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For representational purposes (Photo | PTI)

By Express News Service

BELAGAVI: Even before the state government enacted a law against conversion by force, coercion or fraud, it has come to light that a school in Ilkal, Bagalkot was closed by Education Department officials on charges that it allegedly "tried to convert the students and the parents.'' 

The department issued an order on December 26 for the closure of the school based on a complaint lodged by a group of right-wing organizations and the school inspection report submitted by an official of the department.

The incident occurred amidst attempts being made by the state government to get the anti-conversion Bill passed in the state legislative council.

After the news of the school closure spread via media on December 31, the authorities hastily withdrew the orders. However, the school effectively remained closed for four days, since the issuance of the order on December 26, which was a holiday.

Shreeshail Biradar, Deputy Director of Public Instructions (DDPI), Bagalkot, confirmed that the order was withdrawn by the BEO, M B Ballanavar who had issued the order.  "The school reopened on Friday,’’ he said.

In his earlier order, the BEO had said that the school was being closed indefinitely for `celebrating Christmas in violation of rules’. However, he did not cite the rules in the order.  "You have served meat in the classrooms during Christmas celebrations on December 25. This has led to embarrassment to the public and the department. You have to keep the school closed till further orders. Legal action will be taken if you reopen the school without permission,’’ he said.

Earlier, Pradeep Amarannanavar, convenor of `Pro- Hindu organisations’ lodged a complaint with K Rathna, Tahashildar, that the school was trying to convert the students and parents. "The school management invited the students and parents to school on Christmas Day on December 25 which was supposed to be a government holiday and offered them lunch with meat and wine. The school authorities also preached the gathering about Christianity and tried to convert people,'' says Pradeep Amarannanavar.

Citing the school inspection report submitted by Education Coordinator I M Angadi to the Education Department, he said, the school authorities indulged in all such activities illegally.

The complaint named Silvia D Marck, principal, and Jackson D Marck, and Umesh Nayak Harapanahalli members of school management committee and others responsible for the above said developments that took place in the school. "Since inception of the school, these persons are involved in converting members of the poor and backward communities like Banjara, Ambiger and other groups. They are insulting Hindu Gods and converting the vulnerable groups. Once they are converted, they force the converted to dispose statues and images of Hindu Gods from their homes. This is against the law. On top of it, the school’s license is getting renewed annually, as the school management bribes some education department officials. The authorities should close down the school and cancel its license,’’ the complaint said.

Jackson D Marc, told journalists in Ilkal on Wednesday, that the allegations were baseless. "We are not converting anyone. First of all, the school is not run by Christian missionaries. It is run by some interested residents of Ilkal. The school committee includes members of all faiths. The school has students of all religions. The said lunch was not served in the school. The school is run in rented premises,’’ he said.


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