Missionaries of Charity nuns take part in a prayer meet in Kolkata on Sept. 5, 2018, to mark the 21st anniversary of the death of their founder Mother Teresa. (IANS photo)
The High Court of Jharkhand state in eastern India has granted provisional bail to a Missionaries of Charity nun jailed on allegations of child trafficking 15 months ago. Police arrested Sister Concelia Baxla, 62, who managed a shelter home under the Missionaries of Charity congregation
, in July 2018 following an allegation
that she sold a baby born to an unwed mother under her care. The court in state capital Ranchi provisionally released her on Sept. 27 on furnishing a bail bond of 10,000 rupees (US$150) with two sureties of the same amount. The court directed her to deposit her passport and not to change her residence in Ranchi without permission of the court. Her case has been listed to be heard in four months. The nun’s counsel Chandan Kumari argued that Sister Baxla should get bail as there were no direct charges against her. She had been in jail since her arrest on July 4, 2018, and is sick.
Sister Baxla was arrested following a complaint by Rupa Verma, chairperson of the Child Welfare Committee (CWC) in Ranchi. Verma petitioned police that a childless couple from Uttar Pradesh state complained that they paid US$2,000 to Anima Indwar, a staff member of the shelter house. Indwar promised to give them a baby boy but did not. Police arrested Indwar along with the nun but she was given bail soon after, the lawyer told the court. Police claim that the CWC suspected that the home was involved in the illegal trading of children. Police said they recovered 65,000 rupees from Indwar that the couple allegedly paid to her. "We are happy that the nun is back home after being in jail," said Father Xavier Soreng, a Jesuit social worker. "It is indeed happy news" because the High Court and Supreme Court had earlier denied her bail, he told ucanews.com. Auxiliary Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas of Ranchi told ucanews.com that the Church is "proud of all our Mother Teresa sisters, who went through this ordeal with courage, patience and prayerful fortitude." The High Court on Oct. 30 last year had refused her bail on the grounds that the investigation into the activities of her congregation could be hampered if she was released. On Jan. 29, the Supreme Court turned down her bail application on grounds that police had not yet pressed charges in the case. Following the nun's arrest, the governments run by the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party
(BJP) in the state and in New Delhi initiated a series of investigations into Missionaries of Charity homes. The federal Ministry of Women and Child Development on July 16 ordered inspections of all childcare homes run by the congregation across India. A separate probe was also ordered into foreign donations Missionaries of Charity has received. Mother Teresa, who was canonized as St. Teresa of Calcutta in 2016, started the congregation in 1950 to serve the "poorest of the poor." Missionaries of Charity, a global enterprise, has about 5,000 nuns in over 770 houses, 243 of them in India. It runs homes for the destitute and dying as well as orphanages and shelter homes for unmarried mothers.
Support UCA News...
As 2020 unfolds, we are asking readers like you to help us keep Union of Catholic Asian News (UCA News) free so it can be accessed from anywhere in the world at no cost.
That has been our policy for years and was made possible by donations from European Catholic funding agencies. However, like the Church in Europe, these agencies are in decline and the immediate and urgent claims on their funds for humanitarian emergencies in Africa and parts of Asia mean there is much less to distribute than there was even a decade ago.
Forty years ago, when UCA News was founded, Asia was a very different place - many poor and underdeveloped countries with large populations to feed, political instability and economies too often poised on the edge of collapse. Today, Asia is the economic engine room of the world and funding agencies quite rightly look to UCA News to do more to fund itself.
UCA News has a unique product developed from a view of the world and the Church through informed Catholic eyes. Our journalistic standards are as high as any in the quality press; our focus is particularly on a fast-growing part of the world - Asia - where, in some countries the Church is growing faster than pastoral resources can respond to - South Korea, Vietnam and India to name just three.
And UCA News has the advantage of having in its ranks local reporters that cover 22 countries and experienced native English-speaking editors to render stories that are informative, informed and perceptive.
We report from the ground where other news services simply can't or won't go. We report the stories of local people and their experiences in a way that Western news outlets simply don't have the resources to reach. And we report on the emerging life of new Churches in old lands where being a Catholic can at times be very dangerous.
With dwindling support from funding partners in Europe and the USA, we need to call on the support of those who benefit from our work.
Click here to find out the ways you can support UCA News. You can make a difference for as little as US$5...
Thank you. You are now signed up to our Daily Full Bulletin newsletter