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Indian bishop named in 'conversion' complaint

The complaint registered after inspection of a Church-run orphanage in Jabalpur diocese is 'baseless and false,' says nun
Indian Christians protest against the harassment of Christians and attacks on their churches in the national capital New Delhi in 2014

Indian Christians protest against the harassment of Christians and attacks on their churches in the national capital New Delhi in 2014. (Photo: Bijay Kumar Minj/UCA News)

Published: May 30, 2023 12:07 PM GMT
Updated: May 31, 2023 03:37 AM GMT

A Catholic bishop has been named in a complaint of alleged conversion against a Church-run orphanage, the latest in a series of actions meant to harass Christians in a central Indian state.

Bishop Gerald Almeida of Jabalpur has been named in a May 30 complaint registered by Priyank Kanoongo, chairman of the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR).

Kanoongo's complaint accused Asha Kiran (ray of hope) Children’s Care Institute of attempting to convert Hindu children to Christianity.

Kanoongo reportedly named the bishop in the complaint as the orphanage is managed by the Jabalpur diocese in Madhya Pradesh state's Katni district. 

A team from NCPCR earlier conducted an inspection at the orphanage, which currently takes care of 47 missing or abandoned children rescued from railway stations in the region.

“It is totally a baseless and false allegation,” Sister Stella, who works at the orphanage told UCA News on May 30.

The nun, a member of the Congregation of the Mother of Carmel (CMC), said Kanoongo’s action “seemed to be part of a well-orchestrated plan to target us.”

Sister Stella sought an impartial probe into the whole episode by any government or non-government agency to establish the truth behind the purported inspection and registration of the complaint.

The orphanage in a release narrated the events beginning with two persons visiting the orphanage and ordering the staff out of their own premises. Soon after Kanoongo reached the orphanage and began shouting at the staff and children.

He even demanded entry into the chapel, which is located close to the residence of the nuns.

“We feared desecration,” and their entry was discouraged, the release said.

This irked Kanoongo who insulted the nuns in front of the staff and students.

“They are eating the money of the children and building churches,” he said among other things.

On finding a copy of the Bible, the inspection team started to accuse the nuns of “converting children” and threatened to register a complaint against them.

Kanoongo then took five children in his car without permission from the authorities as required under the law. He took them away around six in the evening and brought them back at nine in the night, the release said.

Church leaders, who did not want to be named, told UCA News that they suspect that Kanoongo may have made the children give false statements to target the orphanage, as was done in a similar case earlier in the state’s Dindori district.

“It is nothing but a pre-planned operation to target our orphanage and tarnish our image. We have been running this center since 2005 following a request from the officials of the Indian Railways,” Sister Stella said.

“Kanoongo and his team should contact all the children who stayed with us and moved on after attaining the age of 18 and find out how many were converted to Christianity,” the nun said.

She said the orphanage was under constant monitoring by the district’s Child Welfare Committee, police and other concerned officials.

“The district officials have always been kind and cooperating with us, helping us at times to provide better care for the children,” the release said.

On March 3, the child rights panel officials inspected a Church-run school in the tribal-dominated Dindori district and arrested the layman principal accusing him of sexually assaulting eight girls in the hostel.

The team took the alleged girl victims with them and filed complaints but their parents denied any assault on them and the Madhya Pradesh High Court released the principal on bail. It also ordered the district collector to conduct a probe into the illegal acts of government officials.

There are four orphanages in the Katni district but “Kanoongo and his team only inspected the Catholic Church-run orphanage showing he is biased,” a Church official said.

Madhya Pradesh is among 11 states in the country with a stringent anti-conversion law in force, although Christians make up a mere 0.29 percent of its 72 million people, who are mostly Hindu.

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3 Comments on this Story
UMESH
If you have the desire to serve so much, there are many CHRISTIAN people in countries like Africa who are living a miserable life, go and help them, but without doing it, your main goal is to seduce and convert innocent people in India. How to spread WESTERN PORN CULTURE in India and destroy Indian culture, brotherhood etc. was the main goal. Please stop it and create peace in India.
THOMAS
Great work in protecting these orphans and giving them a better life... When others do good donvt criticize.
UMESH
Mr Thomas we are not criticizing you but we want to inform you that we Indians willingly respect the generous and loving attitude of God Jesus but some of the bad nature of CHRISTIAN FATHERS and SISTERS willingly criticise other religions & faith and simply say that only Jesus is the savior of this world. By inducting Indians into Christianity, they are destroying brotherhood and unity. The main role of this FATHER and SISTER is behind the disappearance of cattle and forests in India today. Hey everyone how to be happy and peaceful see why you are doing CONVERSION, do service but in that service you should have no self interest. On the other hand, when you will serve, you will tell him to change your religion, by this you are not fulfilling it, you are sinning and hurting the Indian culture. Plz understand the meaning of Basudeva Kutumbakam and respect all religions JAI HIND
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