A Hindu nationalist group has reportedly warned Christians schools in Aligarh, in India's Uttar Pradesh state, against celebrating Christmas where Hindu students are in the majority.
The organization known as the Hindu Jagran Manch (HJM) in Aligarh have reportedly asked Christian schools associated with different dioceses not to celebrate Christmas, claiming that it is a step towards forcing Hindus to convert to Christianity.
Sonu Savita, the city president of HJM, claimed that Hindu students in Christian schools are being asked to bring toys, gifts and celebrate Christmas. "This is a subtle way to tell them about Christianity," the HJM leader said. "We are in talking to parents' organisations too and appeal them to oppose these activities," he added.
He said that the group will be disseminating a notice asking the schools not to observe the traditional Christmas celebrations, and warning that if they do so, "it will be at their own risk."
The state secretary of HJM, Sanju Bajaj, said that the group will stage protests outside the schools if they do not comply with the group's demands.
Some school officials have expressed concern about the group's threats, and some have reportedly lodged complaints with the police and district administration.
"Each year we celebrate festivals belonging to all communities and this experience helps our children to play a responsible role as citizens of this country," said Praveen Agarwal, president of the Public School Development Society, according to The Indian Express.
Anurag Gupta, Convener of the Parents' Association, expressed similar sentiments, saying, "Our schools have been playing an important role in helping students acquire knowledge of different religions and this helps them when they move out to different countries all over the globe."
S.N. Singh, the director of Ingraham Institute in Aligarh, maintained that "no school forces any student to celebrate any particular festival." He said that Christmas is a big festival for the institute, and it will ask the local administration and police for protection if it receives any demands from HJM.
Aligarh District Magistrate, Rishikesh Bhaskar Yashoda, said that he was not aware of any threats being issued by HJM, but vowed that the authorities will take action against those who try to disrupt Christmas celebrations.
Senior superintendent of police Rajesh Pandey echoed the district magistrate's promise, saying the authorities would not allow anyone to force any school not to observe or celebrate Christmas. He assured school officials that full security would be provided for them during the holiday and no one would be allowed to take the law into their own hands.