03/07/2022, 17.12
INDIA
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Gujarat court drops charges against the Missionaries of Charity

by Nirmala Carvalho

According to the local prosecutor, there is no evidence of forced conversions in the Varadara shelter run by the Sisters of Mother Teresa. The case began with National Commission for Protection of Child Rights inspecting the facility. The Sisters will “continue our work to serve the poorest of the poor,” one of the nuns said; however, the anti-Christian campaign by Hindu extremists continues.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) – In the Indian state of Gujarat, a local court dropped all legal proceedings against the Missionaries of Charity in Vadodara resulting from charges of forced conversions brought against them.

The decision dismisses one of the most high-profile actions undertaken by Hindu nationalists in recent months in their anti-conversion campaign, involving the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), which has been increasingly used to legally harass Christian facilities.

The story began on 9 December when the NCPCR inspected the Nirmala Shishu Bhavan, a shelter run by the Sisters of Mother Teresa housing 48 girls, 22 of whom are physically or mentally disabled.

On 12 December, the NCPCR filed a complaint with the Makarpura police accusing the nuns of trying to convert the girls, thus violating the anti-conversion law in force in Gujarat since 2003.

In its complaint, the NCPCT asked that the girls be removed from the nuns’ care and transferred to another facility.

In the end, the accusations turned out to be so unfounded that the prosecutor acknowledged in writing that there was no serious basis to proceed against the Missionaries of Charity.

“God is with us,” said Sr Clarissa, speaking to AsiaNews. “Even though we had to go through this situation, we are grateful to God, who is with us, and to all the people who supported us, including people of other faiths who encourage us to continue our work to serve the poorest of the poor and the destitute.”

Bishop Stanislaus Fernandes, apostolic administrator of the local diocese of Baroda, also spoke to AsiaNews about the case.

“At the moment, the prosecution said that it was not proceeding with the case because they did not have the full details,” the bishop explained. “This has given some relief but we may go to the High Court to quash the case.”

If this affair seems to be over in Gujarat, the same unfortunately cannot be said about the anti-Christian campaign by Hindu extremists elsewhere in the country.

The latest incident to be reported involves a Deli clergyman, Rev Kelom Tet, an evangelical pastor who lives in the Fatehpuri Berri area, who told police that he was beaten and humiliated by a group of strangers who accused him of conversion. They tried to take his Bible from him and forced him to chant a Hindu proclamation.

In the state of Karnataka, thousands of Catholics created a silent human chain last Wednesday to protest against the anti-conversion legislation proposed by the State government. The bill is currently before the Legislative Assembly.

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