Victim of Witch-hunt
Credit – VoTC Correspondent
Pastor Jose Daniel, first set foot in Bihar on 02nd March 1991. He was associated with “Poona Faith Community Church”, Pune, as a Missionary. As a disciple under the able leadership of Pastor Raju Thomas, Pastor Jose blossomed. The Church sent him to Bihar, to serve the destitute and the underprivileged in Bihar.
Life was no bed of roses. Pastor Jose faced huge racist and anti-Christian prejudice but surmounted all these with the love that God had poured into his heart for the local people. He was relentless in his attempts to reach the society with God’s love so that he may able to change the evil traditions practices by the prevalent caste system.
In 1994, he opened the first school, “Mount Zion Mission School”, with just 5 children, in Purnia District of Bihar, which had the lowest literacy rate. By the end of the first year, he had 27 students which doubled the following year. God blessed him with a wife, Sister Mini, who joined him in his mission, of serving the poor and uplifting them in the community. The school now boasts of 800 students.
Today, Pastor Jose Daniel has 3 full-fledged schools in Bihar with more than 2500 students, getting proper education through it. While other schools charged hefty fees using the medium of education as a profit-making business, Mt. Zion stood apart from its counterparts as a school that charged low to medium tuition fees.
However, things suddenly took a turn for the worse. On Friday, 29 July 2016, Aditi Rani, an 8-year old girl, of Grade 1, while having her lunch brought from home, died at school. The school authorities rushed her to the nearest hospital where she was declared brought dead by the doctors.
The religious fundamentalists capitalized and made the most of the incident by giving it a communal colour. This threw open the school and its governance to vested interests, giving them free access into the affairs of the schools
Demonstrations and protests were held; the school authorities questioned, press conferences held, and in spite of police enquiries and reports submitted to the education board and the magistrate, they continued to hound Pastor Jose and the School Management. Agitations by fundamentalists claimed negligence on the part of the school administration and conspired that all schools run by Pastor Jose be closed down, instead of seeking justice for the victim and ensuring the culprit be arrested and punished under the law of the land.
Separately, another incident further aggravated the position of the school. Pastor Jose Daniel had started running Literacy Programs in 5 villages catering to nearly 200 – 300 children. Children from the “Mushar” caste were also educated under the Program.
At the same time, “Right to Education” was a programme launched by the Government, where all Private Schools could avail of the funds given by the government, to educate 10% of the students, free of charge. So, a list of students who would enjoy this benefit, was provided to the Government. While the Education Department had scheduled a visit to the school, to verify authenticity of students who were receiving the free education, they inadvertently visited the school where the student Aditi Rani had passed away, which is the main school. While perusing thru the school admission register, they failed to find the names of the students who were supposedly receiving free education. The Department made a “false assumptions” based on partial truths and claimed “manipulation of government funds”. In spite of presenting the facts of the situation, an FIR was filed, alleging financial improprieties, against the Director of the School, Pastor Jose Daniel.
2 FIR’s (First Information Report) and 1 PIL (Public Interest Litigation) has been filed against Pastor Jose Daniel and the Schools.
Pastor Jose Daniel and the schools under his leadership, are committed to helping children enjoy life in all its fullness, keeping the children safe and protected in times of crisis as well as in daily life; supporting children and families in acquiring the knowledge and skills needed to lead productive, fostering loving and nurturing relationships with God and each other.
There is discontent and frustration expressed across the Christian Community on the miscarriage of justice and conspiracy regarding this particular case. A man who should be honoured and recognized for his selfless work that has gone into building the lives of these children is being vilified and berated. The system is unrelenting in its “witch-hunt”, which is really an attempt to punish Christians for their ethos and values.
The truth of the matter is this: only God has the FINAL say. Not man. God is able and in control. He is the God of the impossible to make possible.