MUMBAI, India – A Catholic diocese in India is seeking a government inquiry after a teacher was removed from a Catholic school due to alleged anti-Hindu remarks.

The Diocese of Mangalore – located on the west coast of India – claims false allegations were raised against a teacher at St. Gerosa High School by members of the Hindu-nationalist BJP party.

The English teacher – a religious sister – was teaching Rabindranath Tagore’s poem “Work is Worship” and she was explaining the lines “Whom dost thou worship in this lonely dark corner of the temple with doors all shut?” – which is from the English Syllabus of 7th Standard State Board of Karnataka – and the diocese said, “she neither taught nor stated anything of the sort as went viral on social media.”

“It all started with the circulation of two audio messages via social media accusing English Teacher of making disparaging remarks against Hindu religious practices and political leaders during a class in 7th standard. As the social media messages spread, four parents approached the Headmistress who assured them a thorough investigation on the issue to bring out the truth,” the diocese said in a statement.

“However, a group of individuals gathered around the school at 12:30 p.m. [on Saturday] The Headmistress assured them also that proper inquiry would be conducted to address the matter. Later that afternoon, the sisters from the school wrote to the district administration stating that the audio messages were far from the truth, and they sought protection from any untoward incident,” the statement continued.

The diocese said the local elected official from the BJP lead a protest on Feb. 12, insisting for an immediate apology and suspension of the teacher, saying “he started harassing women staff, creating an atmosphere of hostility.”

During the evening, as children were leaving the campus, the elected official prompted them to chant religious verses and raise slogans against the teacher.

“The school management, under immense pressure, suspended the teacher, pending an inquiry, to maintain law and order and ensure the safety of the student community,” the diocese said in its statement.

In an official communication addressed to the parents, the school’s management emphasized the importance of maintaining a positive relationship and ensuring uninterrupted academic studies. To address the incident, the accused teacher was removed from the institution.

The management stated that St. Gerosa School, with a 60-year history, has never witnessed such an incident.

“The institution is committed to upholding constitutional values, treating all faiths and communities with equality. Despite the temporary mistrust resulting from this unfortunate incident, the school is optimistic that the decisive measures taken, coupled with active cooperation from parents, will contribute to rebuilding trust and fostering a brighter future for all students,” the management statement said.

However, the BJP politician who led the protest demanded an immediate apology from the English teacher.

The Diocese of Mangalore said in its statement it “expresses deep concern over the unfair treatment of the teacher, students and the school by an elected people’s representative and his people.”

Mangalore South Police Station on Feb. 14 filed an initial report against five people, including two BJP legislators, for allegedly inciting people and forcing students of the school to chant Hindu religious phrases.

The protesters were also accused of instigating enmity between the Christian and Hindu communities by directing slogans against Christianity during the protest.

In a Feb. 15 press release, Archbishop Peter Machado of Bangalore – who is also president of the All Karnataka United Forum for Human Rights – said the local leaders of the city and the mob “had no patience to wait for completion of the government inquiry, and the nun was forcefully suspended, even after the Sister-in-charge of the School begged forgiveness and apology on behalf of the Sister in question, reported to be hospitalized.”

“It is sad that this reputed institution, St. Gerosa Convent School in Mangalore, which is in existence for more than fifty years, like so many other Christian Institutions in Mangalore, is made to suffer humiliation for a stray incident, which is not investigated properly,” the archbishop said.

“Everyone in Mangalore knows that this institution has given many illustrious alumni belonging to different religions. It is universal truth that our Christian Institutions are rendering selfless service, especially in the fields of education and health, to people of all religions without any discrimination. It is also a well-known fact that our minority institutions have shaped and molded the lives of thousands of non-Christians who are holding coveted positions in India and abroad, and they are ever grateful to their alma mater,” he continued.

The archbishop emphasized the Christian community, especially the priests and nuns, always respect all the religions and uphold their religious tenets. However, he said some religious fundamentalist groups, “in order to take revenge or to fan religious animosity, level false allegations against us by spreading wrong rumors to bring in divisions among the general public. Perhaps, this could be one of the main reasons for this case too!”

However, Machado said that despite false allegations and humiliation against the Christian community and its leaders, the Church will continue “to serve the society, especially the poor and the marginalized, providing quality service and pray for their detractors, in the words of Jesus on the Cross, ‘Father, forgive them for they know not what to do!’”