A school principal was assaulted by parents and a group of Hindutva activists for asking students to recite Christian prayers. He had also installed CCTV cameras outside the girls' washrooms for which he drew flak from parents and activists. The incident took place in Pune's Talegaon Dabhade area, where Alexander Coates, the principal of DY Patil High School in Ambi village, was manhandled by Bajrang Dal activists following several complaints by parents that children were allegedly forced to recite Christian prayers.
A video has surfaced on the internet which shows the activists chasing and assaulting Principal Coates and tearing his clothes while raising slogans.
No complaint has been filed with the police, according to P I Ranjit Sawant of Talegaon MIDC police station.
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No formal complaint lodged, says police
According to P I Sawant, parents of students and activists owing allegiance to Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Maharashtra Navnirmaan Sena and Bajrang Dal entered the school premises to check if CCTV was indeed installed in the girls' washroom. When they saw the principal, they manhandled him.
"We have not received any formal complaint," PI Sawant told FPJ over telephone.
I am innocent, principal says
Alexander Coates told FPJ that he is innocent. “The management is on my side, they have asked me to hold on for a couple of days before saying anything about the matter. They will take care of me, I have nothing to fear.”
On why he did not file a complaint as he was assaulted, he said, “I am not that kind of person to go against my own people. I am very positive about this matter.”
“I was the founder principal of this school and have been running this school for the past 6 years. Why should this matter crop up now?” he asked.
Meanwhile, Maval Tehsildar Vikram Dekhmukh said that they had received complaints against the school. "We have asked the MIDC police station and the Education Department to look into the matter and ensure such incidents are not repeated, in this or any other school."
According to one of activists who arrived at the school, "Several parents whose children are studying at this school approached us and informed us that the school authorities are asking their children to recite prayers of Jesus Christ, and the students are not given holidays on Hindu festivals. Besides, CCTV cameras are also installed inside the girls' toilet. When we came to protest against the same, we observed that all the complaints were true."
"The principal was promoting his religion amongst the students. We have asked the school authorities to suspend the principal and other like-minded teachers, and we are also registering a case against them for installing CCTV cameras inside the girls' toilets," he added.
Parents fear for their children's safety
A parent echoed his sentiments and said, "They have installed cameras in the washroom used by senior secondary school girls. They are trying to forcibly convert our children who are forced daily to recite their prayers. Principal Alexander refused to allow children to observe International Yoga Day as they would have to give speeches in Marathi or Hindi, saying this is a Christian school, it will be run as per our wish."
"Our children are intimidated by school authorities and we fear for their safety," she added.