Shillong: Following the demand of Jaintia Students’ Union (JSU) to remove an idol at the National Institute of Technology (NIT), an NGO — Legal Rights Observatory (LRO) — has written to state chief secretary, health secretary and deputy commissioner of East Khasi Hills district seeking their intervention to remove copies of The Bible from the Shillong Civil Hospital and other government-run hospitals in Meghalaya.
In its complaint, the NGO said, “In continuation of the ‘NIT idol precedent’, we request you to immediately remove all The Bible copies placed near patients’ beds from Shillong civil hospital. In an attached photograph to this email, you can see Bible copy in private deluxe rooms of Shillong civil hospital.”
The NGO said that placing such a copy of Bible and urging or forcing followers of Niam Tynrai/ Niamtre religion, that is non- Christian patients, in physical and mental stress to read Bible for medical cure is gross violation of his/her personal liberty. The NGO alleges that it is against the spirit of Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations.
Apart from removing a copy of the Bible, they have requested to immediately order all district medical officers/ health directors to inspect and sanitise all Meghalaya government-run hospitals by removing all Bible copies and religious materials.
LRO has also sought to impose a carpet ban on all visits of evangelists to government hospitals urging followers of Niam Tynrai patients to read Bible and worship Jesus for medical cure. And also to start helpline/ call center to report the presence of any such religious books, material, forced visits of evangelists in Meghalaya government-run hospitals and medical facilities.
The LRO stated, “If no visible action is taken on this letter, then we would approach the Union health ministry to intervene in the matter and legal action against erring officers.”
The JSU had sent out a notice on September 29 to NIT administration to remove Ganesha idol stating that it could undermine the institute’s secular fabric and “incite communal sentiments” among the students and staff belonging to other faiths.