Days after a woman staff and a nun in charge of a shelter home for minor girls run by Missionaries of Charity were arrested for allegedly selling children born in the centre, Secretary-General of Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) Theodore Mascarenhas on Thursday said the shelter home is being targeted by “some powers.”
While Mascarenhas condemned the action of woman staff Anima Indwar, he was confident Sister Concilia, who was also arrested in the case, had no role and that her statement was recorded in “duress.”
“We categorically state that every child is holy for us. So, we are condemning the act. But to use it to bring a bad name to an entire institution is not correct. We feel there are some powers behind it, who want such institutions to have a bad name,” Mascarenhas said while addressing a press conference in Ranchi.
“We were able to get the copy of the FIR in the case only yesterday; that too through the court, eight days after the arrest. Only yesterday, our advocate was able to talk to Sister Concilia, but we were not even allowed to meet her. Is she that big a criminal? The matter is sub-judice, but I can tell you she has told our advocate that her statement was recorded under duress. We will fight these legally,” Mascarenhas questioned the wisdom of the district Child Welfare Committee who have taken out the children and women from Nirmal Hriday and Shishu Bhavan, the two institutions run by the MoC in Ranchi, and handed them over to the other organisations.” he added.
On the question of the Jharkhand DGP urging the state to get the accounts of MoC and sister agencies checked for alleged Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) violations, Mascarenhas said FCRA was a tough law and every three months or so the accounts, with their audits are uploaded on the website. “It is all checked and audited. Even so, we are going to have an internal probe of our centeres. But, it is not only our organisations that come under FCRA. All should be checked,” he said.
Talking about the recent arrest of a priest in the Khunti gangrape case, the arrest of 16 preachers in Dumka and the MoC sister’s arrests, Mascarenhas said, “In Khunti, a Father has been arrested for not informing the police and nine charges are slapped against him. Why no action has been taken against Sanjay Sharma, the man, who organised the street play. He, too, did not inform the police immediately. In Dumka, just for singing Christian songs, you arrest 16 people. Have things come to this point that we can’t even sing or talk about our own religion? In Ranchi, you arrest one person and then launch an investigation against the entire organisation, which has been here since 1959.”
Without directly naming the Jharkhand government or the chief minister, Mascarenhas said, “We have good relations with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and most of the BJP leaders. But there are some powers, which are targeting us. We are small people.” He added he wanted the state government to allow them to be partners in the development of the tribals. “I hope they (Centre) talk to the state government about it,” he said.