Indian police gather outside the premises of Mother Teresa's Missionaries of Charity where a staff member and a nun worked before their arrest on child trafficking charges in Ranchi in India's eastern Jharkhand state. (Photo by AFP)
A court in the eastern Indian city of Ranchi sent a Missionaries of Charity nun to 14 days of judicial custody on July 5 after she was arrested on charges of child trafficking.
The nun, identified only as Concilia, was detained on July 4 with another nun from the congregation, set up by Mother Teresa, for questioning following complaints that babies had been sold to childless couples.
They are from the Nirmal Hriday (Tender Heart) home for unmarried mothers. A women staff member, Anima Indwar, was also arrested. However, police have released the second nun.
Police maintained that Jharkhand state's Child Welfare Committee came to suspect that the charity home was involved in the illegal trading of children after a couple complained they were not given a child despite paying 120,000 rupees (US$1,850) as an adoption fee.
Police said they recovered 65,000 rupees in cash from Indwar that they suspected was part of the amount paid by the couple, Saurabh Kumar Agrawal and his wife Preeti Agrawal from Uttar Pradesh.
The couple came into contact with Anima through a relative in Ranchi before handing over the money, The New Indian Express reported.
Missionaries of Charity Superior General Sister Prema, in an official statement, expressed shock over the allegations and the police response but added: “We are carefully looking into this matter.”
Congregation spokesperson Sunita Kumar said the home was for unwed mothers and did not put children up for adoption as every child there was taken care of.
The congregation is examining the system to make sure that such complaints do not arise in the future, she added.
The charity home is part of the mission for children and unwed mothers of the Missionaries of Charity founded by St. Teresa of Kolkota in 1950.
The pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) runs the government in Jharkhand state, where Christians accuse some Hindu groups of targeting Christians with tacit approval of the administration.
Some Christians view the arrest of the two nuns as being aimed at tarnishing the reputation of the church.
Trafficking of children carries a sentence of 10 years in prison.