School children in India go to lunch in this file photo. Compassion International, which funds several food and health projects, for children will stop operations in India on March 15 citing government pressure. (ucanews.com photo)
An international Christian charity has quit India after 48 years saying that the government has made it too difficult to work there leaving their partner organizations broke.
The U.S.-based Compassion International will pull out of India March 15 because of "increasing governmental restrictions," Becca Bishop, the agency’s media relations officer told ucanews.com.
Problems started when the federal Ministry of Home Affairs put the charity on their "watch list" in March 2016 after accusing them of funding Indian partners that were not registered to receive foreign funds.
The restriction meant that the agency needed prior approval from the government for each financial transaction made to any of its 589 partners. The charity funds partner organizations’ who run programs for children’s health, education and wellbeing.
Officials have been continually denying permission to make transactions, "hindering us from paying our staff or funding our child development programs," Bishop said.
Despite concerted efforts "we are still not allowed to send funds" and we are forced to close operations, she added.
Pramod Das, founder of Bethesda Charitable Endeavors, told ucanews.com that his organization helps 258 children in the slums and leprosy colonies in Uttarakhand state.
It used to get some 5 million rupees (US$74,626) annually from Compassion International. "We will have to completely stop the program now; it will affect the development of the children," Das said.
Ever since the pro-Hindu Bharatitya Janata Party came to power in 2014, Hindu groups have accused Christian charities of using their activities to convert Hindus. According to Indian intelligence agencies, Compassion International engaged in religious conversion, according to local media reports.
"While we have seen these accusations in the Indian media, Compassion has never received any formal reason for the restricting of our funds. We do not require any child to become a Christ-follower in order to receive the benefits of our program," Bishop said.
She added that "while we are an unapologetically Christian organization, our absolute primary goal is to rescue children from poverty."