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AsiaNews/Agencies – The Church in West Bengal has spoken out against government attempts to interfere in the running of Catholic schools.

The government said state-recognized missionary schools must follow its regulations to recruit their heads if they wanted to keep on receiving public funds. Kanti Biswas, minister of state school education said on 3 October the aim was to “streamline recruitment” and that the decision had been communicated to around 1,500 English and Bengali schools. He said: “No school is under obligation to do this if it does not take government aid.”

School Service Commission chairman, Ranajit Basu, said. “Every school will have to accept our recruitment rules if it wants to avail itself of government assistance.”

Official Church representatives said this move violated Article 30 of the national Constitution which guaranteed minorities the right to regulate and run their own educational institutions.

“Never in the past have we been asked to follow this kind of procedure for selecting heads of our own schools,” said Fr Faustine Brank, president of the education section of the Bangiya Christiya Parisheba. The reasons for selecting heads of schools were not restricted to “temporal” criteria of state commissions, he continued. One bishop has declared the intention “resisting” the proposal “with all our might”.

Meanwhile, the St Paul mission school in Giridih district in Jharkhand State has decided to close its doors for an unspecified period of time because the police did not take action against perpetrators of repeated attacks against the school. In recent months, the school was attacked and robbed several times by armed people who took money and other things, beat watchmen and molested young sisters. The last attack took place on 28 September.

Fr Matthew Aikalam, who headed the protest, said: “The police identified the assailants but did not take any action.” Hence the school authorities, together with the parents, have decided to close the school for “an indefinite period”.