An outfit affiliated to RSS, the Hindu Jagran Manch (HJM), has warned schools in Aligarh against celebrating Christmas, saying if they do so, it would be ‘at their own risk’.
The warning was issued in a letter to school managements on Sunday, Dec 17, according to media reports. Only a few days ago, another RSS affiliate, Bajrang Dal, in another BJP-ruled state Madhya Pradesh, had prevailed upon the police to arrest Christians who were singing Christmas carols on charges of attempting ‘forced conversion’.
Taking note of the HJM threat to schools, the Uttar Pradesh police, on Tuesday, Dec 19, directed all district police chiefs to ensure that Christmas festivities go smoothly without any untoward incident.
ADG (Law and Order) Anand Kumar also directed all district police chiefs of the state to ensure the freedom of practising ones religion is protected and appropriate action should be taken in this regard, reported the news agency PTI.
“The Aligarh SSP (senior superintendent of police) and all district police chiefs have been directed to take strict legal action against those indulging in intimidation of any sort,” he said.
School managements, alarmed at the HJM threat, had expressed concern over the warning and called for security. A media report quoted a school principal as saying: “We have been celebrating Christmas for so many years and every child takes part in it so happily, how can some fringe elements decide on what is to be done and what not.”
Senior Superintendent of Police Rajesh Pandey reportedly told news agency IANS that there was no question of allowing anyone or any group to disrupt any festivities at the city schools. “Anything that is illegal will not be allowed and such designs will be foiled,” he added.
The warning to schools was apparently camouflaged as a move to prevent schools from ‘forcing’ children to celebrate Christmas by making it compulsory for them to attaend the event.
According to a report in The Indian Express (IE), the HJM, had asked its district units in the state to visit private schools with a warning — don’t collect contributions for Christmas celebrations from Hindu students and don’t make it compulsory for them to attend the event. Alleging that schools promoted Christianity this way, the HJM has asked its district units to protest outside schools if their warnings were not heeded, said the IE report.
“We have no objection if anyone celebrates Christmas. Our request to schools is not to force any Hindu to contribute. We will request principals and managers of schools, both orally and in writing,” said HJM state chief Vijay Bahadur Singh, according to the IE report.
Aligarh HJM chief Sonu Savita said, “Most students in missionary and other schools are Hindus. Christian students in these schools are very few… with none in some cases. Thus, their major source of revenue is from the Hindus students. We will be telling schools that by celebrating Christmas, they are promoting Christianity.”
He said his workers will start visiting schools in his area from Tuesday with “warning letters”.
HJM Awadh Prant general secretary Manish Srivastav said, “If a school still forces students to celebrate Christmas, then we will protest outside the school.” The nature of the protest will be decided soon, he was reported to have said.