Gojra catholic School playground blocked by authorities in denationalization.<br>By Robin Fernandez


KARACHI: July 23. Authorities in the central town of Gojra are blocking plans to hand over the playground of a high school they returned to the Catholic Church earlier this month. St Albert's High School in Gojra, located some 50 kilometers from Fais

Members of the Christian community in Gojra have threatened to go on strike to protest the delay in handing over possession of the playground. Under an official notification issued in July 2001, St Albert High School was freed from government control but since then the transfer has been mired in controversy and bureaucratic wrangling. "The education officials and their collaborators delayed the move till Jan 4, 2002 when they got a stay order. In the meantime they went to the Lahore High Court. Justice Bhandari threw out the case straightaway," Fr Mendes recalled. Courts in Toba Tek Singh and Gojra also rejected their petition. On June 19, 2002, another petition referred from a high court bench to Toba Tek Singh was disposed of. "From that date local education and Administration officials are playing games and refusing to hand over the school," he claimed. When the church official threatened to go on strike, an offer of negotiations was made. An agreement was struck on releasing the original building straightaway. However, Fr Mendes said, the administration and education officials in connivance with two Muslim Leaguers from Gojra reneged on their pledge. "They told us to produce papers. We did. They asked for the originals of 1913 onwards. We did," he said.

There are at least a dozen Catholic Church-owned schools awaiting denationalization in the central Punjab province. The Catholic Church is seeking the return of six schools in the Rawalpindi-Islamabad diocese and another 17 institutions in the archdiocese of Karachi.

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