HOURS AFTER West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee tweeted that the “Union Ministry froze all bank accounts” of Missionaries of Charity, the iconic Kolkata-based organisation founded by Mother Teresa, the Ministry of Home Affairs said it “refused” to renew the NGO’s registration under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) on December 25 based on “adverse inputs”.
The Ministry and Missionaries of Charity said in separate statements, however, that the organisation’s accounts were not frozen by the Government. The charity said it had asked its centres “not to operate any of the FC accounts until the matter is resolved”.
The Home Ministry did not specify what the “adverse inputs” were.
Missionaries of Charity was officially established on October 7, 1950, by Mother Teresa who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 “for bringing help to suffering humanity”.
Shocked to hear that on Christmas, Union Ministry FROZE ALL BANK ACCOUNTS of Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity in India!
Their 22,000 patients & employees have been left without food & medicines.
While the law is paramount, humanitarian efforts must not be compromised.
— Mamata Banerjee (@MamataOfficial) December 27, 2021
Incidentally, on December 12, the organisation was booked under the Gujarat Freedom of Religion Act, 2003, for allegedly “hurting Hindu religious sentiments” and “luring towards Christianity young girls” at a shelter home it runs in Vadodara. It has rejected the charge.
On Monday, Missionaries of Charity said in its statement: “We appreciate the concern of our well-wishers and extend our heartiest greetings for Christmas and the New Year. We would like to clarify that the FCRA registration of the Missionaries of Charity has been neither suspended nor cancelled.”
The statement said: “Further, there is no freeze ordered by the Ministry of Home Affairs on any of our bank accounts. We have been informed that our FCRA renewal application has not been approved. Therefore, as a measure to ensure there is no lapse, we have asked our centres not to operate any of the FC accounts until the matter is resolved.”
Earlier, Chief Minister Banerjee posted on Twitter: “Shocked to hear that on Christmas, Union Ministry froze all bank accounts of Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity in India! Their 22,000 patients & employees have been left without food & medicines. While the law is paramount, humanitarian efforts must not be compromised.”
The tweet triggered a slew of reactions.
TMC MP Derek O’Brien posted on Twitter: “After a filthy hit job on Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity on December 25, now MHA doing what it does best: spin doctoring & a cover up…”
This is indeed shocking. When Mother Teresa wins a Nobel Prize, India rejoices. When her organisation serves the poor & destitute, the govt cuts off their funding. Disgraceful. https://t.co/dpHInSubqo
In another tweet with the NGO’s statement attached, he wrote: “First the Government of India intimidates. For weeks, right through to December 25. And then they pile on the pressure to extract this. Shame on the MHA and its shameless damage control tactics.”
“This is indeed shocking. When Mother Teresa wins a Nobel Prize, India rejoices. When her organisation serves the poor & destitute, the govt cuts off their funding. Disgraceful,” Congress MP Shashi Tharoor tweeted.
CPI(M) West Bengal secretary Surjya Kanta Mishra also took to Twitter and tagged the move as “shocking news”.
Expressing “shock”, Angelina Mantosh Jasnani, president, Catholic Association of Bengal, asked the Home Ministry to find a way to ensure that the poor don’t suffer and at the same time, all the required norms of the FCRA are met.
Later, the Home Ministry said in a statement that the organisation’s “renewal of FCRA registration…was refused on December 25, 2021, for not meeting the eligibility conditions under FCRA 2010 and Foreign Contribution Regulation Rules (FCRR) 2011”.
“No request/ revision application has been received from Missionaries of Charity (MoC) for review of this refusal of renewal,” it said.
It said that the organisation’s registration was valid upto October 31, 2021. “The validity was subsequently extended upto December 31, 2021, along with other FCRA associations whose renewal application were pending renewal,” the Ministry said.
“However, while considering the MoC’s renewal application, some adverse inputs were noticed. In consideration of these inputs on record, the renewal application of MoC was not approved… MHA did not freeze any accounts of MoC. State Bank of India has informed that MoC itself sent a request to SBI to freeze its accounts,” it said.
According to annual reports submitted by Missionaries of Charity to the Ministry, it received Rs 425.86 crore over the past five years in foreign donations.
Records show that in the last 15 years, the organisation received over Rs 1,099 crore from foreign sources. The latest declaration available, for 2020-21, shows that it received Rs 75.19 crore from abroad between April 2020 and March 2021.
In the Vadodara case, the FIR lodged at Makarpura Police Station against the NGO is based on a complaint from District Social Defence Officer Mayank Trivedi who said that he had visited the Home for Girls run by Missionaries of Charity in the area on December 9, along with the chairman of the district’s Child Welfare Committee.
The FIR states that during his visit, Trivedi allegedly found that girls were being “forced” to read Christian religious texts and participate in prayers, with the intention of “steering them into Christianity”.
During the recent winter session of Parliament, BJP MP Nishikant Dubey had accused Missionaries of Charity of indulging in religious conversions and illegally sending children for adoption abroad.
In July 2018, the police in Jharkhand, then ruled by the BJP, had arrested a woman employee, Anima Indwar, and a nun, Sister Consalia, for allegedly trafficking children born in a centre run by Missionaries of Charity. The police had then recommended a CBI enquiry and asked for investigations into FCRA violations, if any, by the NGO.
(With Shyamlal Yadav)
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