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Nepal Catholic schools facing ransom demands

Catholic schools in Nepal are increasingly becoming targets of the ransom extortion spree unleashed by the Maoist guerrillas in hilly and remote areas of Nepal.

SAR News reports that the situation is so serious that schools are tending to wind up their operations rather than succumb to the Maoists' pressure.

Consequently, the Catholic Church-run schools in Gorakha and Bandipur, which cater to the marginalised and backward Nepalese children, have been already closed. The most recent victim of the Maoist tactic is a high school run by the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth (SCN) in Daran, Eastern Nepal.

According to Provincial Sr Teresa Kotturan, the guerrillas asked the Sisters to close down their high school in Daran early this August. She stated that in a meeting with the principals of the town, the Maoist leaders asked them to bring down the fee structure or close down the schools in the area. The rebels have targeted three schools this time, run by Delhi Public School, the SCN Sisters and a Muslim organisation.

The SCN Provincial further added that her sisters were accused by the Maoists of "preaching Christianity" among the local non-Christian population.

Sr Elizabeth Lobo, principal of the SCN School, Daran, said her school enjoyed good reputation for its high quality teaching and discipline. "It is one of the best equipped and well-managed schools in eastern Nepal," she said.

Maoists have been targeting schoolteachers and educated people in general as part of their expansion strategy.