Weeks before government move to FCRA, Missionaries of Charity nuns booked for “forced conversion”

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Almost two weeks before the Union Ministry of the Interior refused to renew the FCRA (Foreign Contribution Regulation Act) statute of the Missionaries of Charity based in Kolkata and founded by Mother Teresa, the police of the city of Vadodara had brought an action against the NGO under the Law on the freedom of religion of Gujarat for having allegedly “harmed Hindu religious feelings” and “drawn to Young Christian Girls” in the hostel run by the organization.

Friday, a court in Vadodara adjourned for the third time the request for early release on bail lodged by two nuns from Home for Girls, the court ordering the city police to “clarify” the use of articles 3 and 4 of the law, the request of which had been suspended by the High Gujarat court in August.

Article 3 of the law prohibits conversion “by the use of force or by seduction or by any fraudulent means or by marriage or by marrying a person or by helping a person to marry” while article 4 prescribes penal provisions.

The Missionaries of Charity nuns in front of the Mother House in Calcutta.

District Government Advocate (DGP) Anil Desai, who represented Vadodara Town Police in the case, informed Additional Sessions Judge RT Panchal that an opinion from the Government Advocate’s Office to the High Court was expected.

Police resisted the nuns’ request for early bail while alleging that a woman was “forcibly converted” in the institution, that the girls at the shelter were given “non-vegetarian food” and read books on Christianity, according to Desai.

the Vadodara Police FIR, filed on December 12, is based on a complaint filed by district social defense officer Mayank Trivedi, who in December visited the Home for Girls run by the Missionaries of Charity in the Makarpura neighborhood with the president of the district child protection committee. 9.

According to the complaint, Trivedi discovered that the girls inside the home were allegedly “forced” to read Christian religious texts and participate in Christian faith prayers, in an attempt to “orient them towards Christianity.”

A statement from the Vadodara Town Police on December 13 said: “Between February 10, 2021 and December 9, 2021, the institution was involved in activities aimed at intentionally and bitterly injuring the religious feelings of Hindus ( towards the Hindu religion). The girls inside the girls’ home are drawn to adopt Christianity by having them wear the cross around their necks and also by placing the Bible on the table in the storage room used by the girls, in order to force them to read the Bible … It is a crime attempt to force the religious conversion of girls.

Police in Vadodara are also investigating the specific case of a Hindu woman from Punjab, who was allegedly married to a Christian family by the organization after being forced to convert to Christianity.


Meanwhile, the woman, named in the police FIR as a “victim” of the forced conversion, filed an affidavit stating that she had “not been forcibly converted” and that the case police had “damaged his image in society” as his interfaith marriage was with “his will and consent”.

DGP Desai told the newspaper: “The woman filed her affidavit in court and denied the police case, but the investigation is ongoing… – vegetarian food for girls living in the shelter. Police also told the court that the organization forced the girls to read books of the Christian faith and that books of no other religion were found in the organization. The fact that the girls living in the shelter are forced to wear a pendant of the holy cross – a symbol of the Christian faith – in order to attract them to religion, is also a reason for opposing the request for release on bail. .

Vadodara Police Commissioner Shamsher Singh told The Indian Express: “The woman, who was converted for marriage, has yet to register her statement with the police. The police tried to establish contact with her. The other investigation is ongoing. We turned the matter over to the Criminal Branch.

Attorney Jahangir Shaikh, MoC attorney in Vadodara, told The Indian Express: “Our first argument in court was that the Vadodara police should not have registered the case under the articles of the amended law. , which were suspended by the HC in August. . Second, they named this Punjabi girl as the victim in the case. The point is that in her affidavit she declared in court that she had never been converted and continued to follow Sikhism… So the question of forced conversion for marriage does not arise. By the way, the wedding took place in 2012 and it was brought in this case in 2021, which in itself is doubtful because the girl did not voluntarily complain to anyone.

In addition to articles of the Gujarat Religious Freedom Law, the institution has been classified under Articles 295 (A) and 298 of the IPC, which are related to insulting religious beliefs.

The Gujarat government in June last year passed the 2003 Gujarat Religious Freedom Act as amended which adds forced marriage conversion, among other things, to Article 3, which provides “the prohibition of forced conversion ”. Section 4 of the law punishes forced conversion with three years’ imprisonment and a fine of 50,000 rupees; in the case of a minor being the “victim of a forced conversion”, a prison sentence of four years and a fine of up to Rs 1 lakh.

On August 20 of this year, the division bench of Chief Justice Vikram Nath and Judge Biren Vaishnav, having heard two petitions opposing the law, suspended the application of certain articles of the law, including the 3 and 4, and observed: “Prima-facie interfaith marriages between two consenting adults under the provisions of section 3 of the 2003 law interfere with the intricacies of marriage, including an individual’s right to choose, violating thus article 21 of the Constitution of India.

DGP Desai said: “The court, during the advance bail hearing, asked us to discuss with the Advocate General the scope of the stay order issued by the High Court of Gujarat in relation to Articles 3 and 4 of the freedom of religion of Gujarat. Act. The HC issued the suspension order for the specified sections in the context of forced conversion by interfaith marriage… The other grounds for forced conversion set out in the section have not been suspended and the police case is therefore founded . We will discuss the applicability of the article in this case with the government attorney at HC and file our response in court when we receive the warning.


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