Kanoongo raids another Catholic facility in Madhya Pradesh
Undisturbed, the chairman of the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights continues his campaign of persecution against Christian educational establishments. After threatening to arrest the bishop of Jabalpur, he recently targeted a children’s centre in Katni. The BJP-ruled state goes to the polls in November and now children are used as a political pawn by those who should instead protect them.
Jabalpur (AsiaNews) – Priyank Kanoongo’s personal war against Catholic educational establishments in Madhya Pradesh continues.
A member of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Kanoongo heads the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR).
The Asha Kiran Children's Care Institute is the latest facility to end up in his crosshairs. Run by the Congregation of the Mother of Carmel, a Syro-Malabar order, the centre is located in Katni, a city in the Diocese of Jabalpur, whose bishop Mgr Gerald Almeida was recently threatened with arrest.
The pattern is always the same: Kanoongo orders a surprise inspection at a Christian-run facility for children. And invariably after interrogations and searches, they trump up "evidence" of fraud and forced conversions of children.
The accusations tend to collapse once they reach the courts, but only after feeding a sense of grievance among Hindus and hostility towards Christians in a state led by the BJP where state elections are set for next November.
In Katni, Kanoongo personally led the inspection, posting live updates on his social media profiles, noisily complaining about Hindu children forcibly converted through participation in Christian prayers. For this reason, he filed a complaint with the police under Madhya Pradesh’s draconian anti-conversion law.
The nuns rejected his accusations out of hand. In a statement, they explain that the five children in question were unruly, constantly misbehaving, and were kept rather than expelled simply to avoid sending them back to a difficult environment.
In their view, the NCPCR chairman is using the children for political purposes rather than helping them in a difficult situation.
The centre in Katni was created in 2005 upon the request of Indian Railways in a building they owned to meet the needs of needy families who live near the tracks. Later, to provide better facilities for children, it was moved to a place picked by the Diocese of Jabalpur and set up with its resources.
The Congregation of the Mother of Carmel has been running children's facilities for 80 years, working co-operatively with the local district administration, childcare department, police and other agencies, who gave “timely suggestions and indications that were very useful”.
Given the seriousness of the situation, the nuns are puzzled by the NCPCR’s contradictory behaviour.
“The children were picked up at 6 pm and brought back at 9 pm. The staff were ordered not to talk to them and take no action against them because if they complained, the management and staff would be sent to jail,” the nuns note.
Yet, “If this is the case, why did they send the children back to our centre? If our institute is as the chairman says, they should have transferred them immediately. Instead, they brought them here again.”