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Deportation order for only Mill Hill missionary in Kashmir

(March 31, 2011) Fr Jim Borst, the only Mill Hill missionary in the Kashmir valley for 48 years, has been ordered to leave the country within seven days, on pain of expulsion. The order came Wednesday from the Government of Jammu & Kashmir for the second time. The 79 year old Dutch missionary had already received a warning last July, just months after the government had renewed his permission to stay until 2014. The deportation order is motivated by accusations of proselytism and conversions. The Bishop of Jammu-Srinagar, Mgr. Peter Celestine brands the allegations as fabricated and baseless. Fr. Borst - he says, “is a famous educator and his service has benefited the majority of the population of the state. For over 40 years he devoted himself selflessly to serving the community, without discrimination." Since 1997, Fr Borst has run two schools in Kashmir. Both are called "School of the Good Shepherd", one in Pulwama and the other in Shivpora, in Srinagar, where the staff is 99% Muslim. In the past, Fr. Borst led the St. Joseph School in Baramulla and the Burn Hall School in Srinagar. The bishop strongly feels that the accusations are false and baseless. It’s just slander, sowing distrust and suspicion without any evidence. Predhuman K.Joseph Dhar, a Kashmiri Pandit Brahmin who converted to Catholicism, is a collaborator of Fr Borst: together they translated the Bible into the Kashmiri language. Furious at the deportation order, he says: "This order is the result of jealousy and vested interests. We all know that some Muslim intellectuals run schools in the vicinity are the ones who are vilified by the schools of the Good Shepherd, and are angered that their schools are unable to compete with Mill Hill Missionaries schools.” The Christian community concludes Dhar, is saddened by the way Fr. Jim Borst is treated. It is an anti-Christian gesture and a gross violation of human rights by the government.