07/30/2018, 15.37
INDIA
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Jharkhand bishops react to crackdown against Christian NGOs, slam discrimination against Christians

The bishops deliver a memorandum to the state governor. The investigations have intensified after the sale of newborns involving the Sisters of Mother Teresa. For Bishops’ Council’s secretary general, the government is trying to show that the officials of Christian organisations are terrorists.

Ranchi (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Christian NGOs in Jharkhand are neither illegal nor a terrorist den, this according to a memorandum that the state’s Catholic bishops sent to Governor Droupadi Murmu.

The work of Christian organisations has come under close scrutiny by state authorities after an orphanage run by the sisters of Mother Teresa was caught up in a baby selling scandal, which led to an investigation into all of Missionaries of Charity’s activities.

Now, however, the bishops complain, the investigation has spread to include all Christian associations, which have become the target of discrimination "just because they are Christian".

The Jharkhand Bishops' Council made the memorandum public yesterday at a press conference. The delegation of bishops was led by Card Telesphore P. Toppo, archbishop emeritus of Ranchi.

In the text delivered to the governor, the prelates accuse the Crime Investigation Department of subjecting Christian NGOs to violent attacks and making false accusations.

The bishops point out that all Christian NGOs have been registered under the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA) and have submitted audit reports to the federal Home Ministry and have filed income tax returns regularly, details of which are available on government websites.

“It is surprising that the state CID has launched such an investigation even after the Centre (federal government) has verified all the accounts and renewed permission,” the memorandum reads.

Furthermore, NGOs are autonomous bodies; hence, a blanket investigation of all NGOs merely because they are Christians, is unjust, unfair, illegal and against natural justice.

“We would like to request your excellency to make it possible for us, a peace-loving community, which is always in the service of the people, the nation and the poor, to carry out our work without any harassment,” the memorandum says.

Later, addressing the media, Council Secretary General Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas said that by involving the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS), the state government was perhaps trying to show that the officials of Christian organisations are terrorists.

“Christian organisations are not alone in receiving foreign aid under FCRA. Why have other NGOs been spared?” he asked.

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