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Mumbai Police book Christian mission head for alleged ‘casteist slur, abuse’
The police have invoked various sections of the stringent SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, and further investigations are on, said an official
The MHB Police Station has booked the Director of a prominent Christian education mission for allegedly hurling caste-slurs at a technical education institution’s director-principal, torturing and making him and his students clean toilets, officials said here on Wednesday.
The complaint was lodged by an academic, Santosh Pandurang Shinde, 46, Director-Principal of Ava Elma Vocational Educational Pvt. Ltd., the MHB Police have registered a FIR against Fr. Corlis Noel Gonsalves, Director, Bosco Boys Home, according to lawyer Nitin Satpute.
The police have invoked various sections of the stringent SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, and further investigations are on, said an official.
On his part, Prin. Shinde and his students staged a protest outside the police station on Monday demanding the immediate arrest of Fr. Gonsalves for allegedly subjecting him and some of his 80-odd vocational students to casteist slurs, mental torture and humiliation in different forms.
“The Director Fr. Gonsalves has been continuously targeting my students and me in different ways, including cutting off our drinking water supply, locking up the toilets and removing the cleaning staff to force me clean up the rest rooms of my government-recognised vocational training institute,” claimed Prin. Shinde.
Despite repeated attempts, Fr. Gonsalves was not available for his version of the allegations against him though police have not yet made any arrests in the case.
The problems started in Jan. 2023, when Fr. Gonsalves slapped a notice asking Prin. Shinde to vacate his rented premises (@3,600 sq.feet) in the Bosco Boys Home, near Gorai, within six months.
Prin. Shinde suspects that Fr. Gonsalves' attitude allegedly underwent a sudden change when he learned that “I belong to a Dalit caste” and started the harassment by locking up the institute’s toilets.
“In fact, in Jan. 2022, Fr. Gonsalves used some religious pretext, asked me to vacate the 3,600-feet inside the main building and forced me to shift my vocational institute in an illegal smaller shed of around 2,500 sq. feet in the compound,” said Prin. Shinde.
The FIR has quoted Fr. Gonsalves as saying: “You low-caste people have used my toilet and dirtied it…You clean up the toilet with your hands now”.
Later, deprived of the facility, the students complained to the two teachers – Pratap Patil and Himanshu Jha – but when confronted, Fr. Gonsalves fumed and asked them that “henceforth, if you want to use the toilets, then clean up all the muck with your hands and inform me.”
Accordingly, in the interest of the students and the staff, Prin. Shinde and some of his pupils would clean up the toilets after using and inform Fr. Gonsalves via email.
When Prin. Shinde demanded to restart the water supply, Fr. Gonsalves allegedly said, as per the FIR: “You low-caste ‘chamars’, ‘bhangis’, ‘thieves’ and ‘Ambedkar aulaad (progeny)’ have no right to touch or drink this water… You can drink the water from the same toilet which you have cleaned.”
Prin. Shinde said that owing to certain unavoidable circumstances, examinations and other issues, he could not move out of the ‘illegal shed’ and has been undergoing the alleged persecution by Fr. Gonsalves.
“We are shocked and shaken by this attitude and we want the Police to act against Fr. Gonsalves as a deterrent,” Prin. Shinde urged on his plight.