Christians fear the law will eventually bring all church schools under government management
Christian and other religious minorities in western India’s Gujarat state are upset about a new state law that they say curtails their right to manage their educational institutions.
Religious minorities jointly moved the state’s High Court on June 7 seeking to quash the Gujarat Secondary and Higher Secondary Education (Amendment) Act, 2021, which came into effect on June 1.
“The new law has practically withdrawn the rights of all religious minorities guaranteed in the constitution to establish and manage educational institutions,” said Father Teles Fernandes, secretary of Gujarat Education Board of Catholic Institutions.
Other religious minorities such as Muslims and Jains are also opposed to the new law.
“We have jointly filed a petition in the High Court challenging the new law,” said Father Fernades.Christian leaders suspect if the Gujarat government succeeds in taking away religious minorities’ rights, the same law will be replicated in other states where the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) runs the governments.
Gujarat, where the BJP has been in power for 26 years, has been described as the laboratory of right-wing Hindu groups and the BJP to experiment with their anti-minority policies that aim to make India a nation of Hindu hegemony.
The state also amended its 17-year-old anti-conversion law last April, construing even a blessing or sponsoring a child’s education as an attempt at religious conversion and a crime that can be punished with up to 10 years in jail.