A Christian group on Sunday demanded an unconditional apology from Union Minister of State for Environment and Forest Jairam Ramesh for terming the wearing of the traditional convocation robe as a "barbaric colonial practice".
Describing Ramesh's statement as remarks against Pope and Christians around the world, Sajan K George, president of the Bangalore-based Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), said the remarks have deeply offended religious sentiment.
"The practice of wearing a traditional coloured gown during a convocation ceremony at any university is a barbaric colonial practice. Why can't we wear simple dress instead of these gowns," Ramesh said at the seventh convocation ceremony of the Indian Institute of Forest Management (IIFM) at Bhopal Friday.
Ramesh had publicly removed his gown and said: "Why cannot we have convocation in simple dress instead of coming dressed up as medieval vicars and popes."
"GCIC strongly condemns such insensitive remarks by the honorable minister. We are all the more concerned that the minister has chosen Bhopal, the epicenter of persecution against Christians in India to demean Pope," George said.
"The minister spoke with utter irresponsibility and with lack of respect for the Pope and with a display of incredible cynicism towards the church and millions of people around the world."
"The Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) demands from him an unconditional apology for such insensitive remarks," he added.