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Gujarat: Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity booked on charges of conversion at shelter home for women

The complainant further alleged that the organization has forced a Hindu girl to marry a Christian man according to Christian rituals.

The Makarpura police in Vadodara, Gujarat, has registered an FIR against Missionaries of Charity, an organization founded by Mother Teresa, on the charges of allegedly hurting Hindu religious sentiments and luring young girls to convert to Christianity. The organization runs a shelter home in Vadodara city. The case has been registered based on the complaint filed by Mayank Trivedi, District Social Defence officer.

The organization has been booked under Sections 295A (deliberate and malicious acts to outrage feelings of any class by insulting its religious beliefs), 298 (deliberately uttering words to wound the religious sentiments of a person) of the Indian Penal Code, and Section 3 (prohibition of forcible conversion) of the Gujarat Freedom of Religion Act, 2003. The punishment for forcible conversion under the act is up to three years with/or a fine of up to Rs. 50,000. As per Section 4 of the Gujarat Freedom of Religion Act, 2003, if a minor has been forcefully converted, the punishment would be up to four years and/or a fine up to Rs. 1 lakh.

As per the Indian Express report, Trivedi and Chairman of the Child Welfare Committee of the district had visited the shelter home for girls in the Makarpura area on December 9. According to the FIR, Trivedi found that the girls living in the house were forced to read Christian religious texts. He also alleged that they were forced to participate in Christian prayers with an intention to lure them to Christianity.

The FIR read, “Between February 10, 2021, and December 9, 2021, the institution has been involved in activities to hurt the religious sentiments of Hindus intentionally and with bitterness… The girls inside the Home for Girls are being lured into adopting Christianity by making them wear the cross around their neck and also placing the Bible on the table of the storeroom used by the girls in order to compel them to read the Bible… It is an attempted crime to force religious conversion upon the girls.”

The complainant further alleged that the organization has forced a Hindu girl to marry a Christian man according to Christian rituals. Another allegation made against the organization was that they served non-vegetarian food to some of the girls.

SB Kumavat, Assistant Commissioner of Police, told IE that the District Collector had issued instructions to file a case against the organization. He said, “The District Collector had formed a committee after the complaint from the Child Welfare Committee. A team of members of several departments probed the allegation, following which a complaint was filed. Police will probe the allegations and gather evidence to see if the contentions are true.”

Shamsher Singh, Commissioner of Police, Vadodara, said that the investigation had been initiated into the alleged conversion of a woman who was from Punjab. He said, “We have begun a probe today based on the complaint. There has been one case of a woman from Punjab being converted by the Missionaries of Charity after she lived in the home, which the committee has reported… There are exhaustive guidelines in place for shelter homes, which they must follow. We will examine the case on the basic FIR.”

Organization denied allegations

A spokesperson of Missionaries of Charity said that the organization was not involved in any forceful conversions. They said, “We are not involved in any religious conversion activity… We have 24 girls in the home. These girls live with us, and they follow our practice as they see us doing the same when we pray and live. We have not converted anyone or forced anyone to marry into Christian faith.”

Missionaries’ Conversion racket

Missionaries have been accused of conversions in Gujarat on multiple occasions. Recently, a video from Godhara went viral on social media platforms in which a man from a Christian group was doing an exorcism. Similar allegations have been made against several pastors from Punjab, including Bajinder Singh and Ankur Narula.

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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OpIndia Staff
OpIndia Staff
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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