(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.