December 23, 2005

Hindu Teacher Ordered to Remove Bindi at Christian School

www.newindpress.com

BHOPAL, INDIA, December 21, 2005: (HPI note: Christian schools in India receive government funding for teacher's salaries and textbooks. Most of the students are not Christians.)

A Christian missionary school here is in the throes of a controversy after it sacked a Hindu teacher for wearing sandalwood paste on her forehead. Activists of the radical Hindu organization Bajrang Dal have taken up the case of the teacher and are up in arms against the school. Jyoti Sahasrabuddhe, 40, a computer science teacher at Saint Jones School in the Govindpura area of the city for the last 14 years, went to school on Monday with sandalwood paste smeared on her forehead. The principal, Suman Martin, allegedly objected to the paste and asked Sahasrabuddhe to wipe it off but she refused. This led to a heated argument between the two and the teacher tendered her resignation.

She later filed a complaint at the Govindpura police station against Martin's behavior. In her complaint Sahasrabuddhe said no teacher at the school was allowed to wear 'bindi' on her forehead. "Students are forcibly taught from the Bible in the name of prayers," she said in the complaint. Sahasrabuddhe has also accused the school authorities of carrying out religious conversions. Bajrang Dal activists took up the matter after learning of the incident. "We have got complaints against this school earlier too. We were told that the Bible was read out to the students against their wishes. The students were also forced to read the Bible in the name of morning prayers," said Devendra Rawat, an office-bearer of the Bajranj Dal. "We want that the teacher should be reinstated and the Bible should not be read out to the students. If the school management fails to do these two things, we will take action against them," Rawat said. Martin could not be immediately contacted for comments. However, another teacher at the school said on the condition of anonymity that the school management had rejected Sahasrabuddhe's resignation and she would be reinstated. "We are investigating the matter," a police official at the Govindpura police station said.

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