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Monday, May 20, 2024

DMK government supports Christian ‘children’s home’ accused of forced conversion

Following NCPCR’s letter to the Chief Secretary, the DMK government in Tamil Nadu has come out in support of the Christian institution accused of conversion. NCPCR had written that girls are forced to convert to Christianity in a school hostel in Chennai and accused state officials of non-cooperation in rescuing the girls. Now the DMK government has sent a team to probe on its own and declared that no conversion activities are happening in the institution.

On September 8, Chairman of the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) had written to the Chief Secretary and DGP of TN, directing them to remove inmates of a girl’s hostel run by the Church of South India. SCPCR members had paid a surprise visit to the hostel attached to the Monahan Girls Higher Secondary School in Chennai. They found that the girls were forced to read the Bible and investigation revealed that they were also asked to convert to Christianity.

The infrastructure wasn’t adequate and the inspection team discovered that the hostel claiming to be a ‘Children’s Home’ is not registered. SCPCR immediately informed the District Child Protection Unit and directed them to rescue the girls and reunite them with their families. But no action was taken. Following this, SCPCR got a call from the girl inmates who cried that after the former’s visit, their parents were being threatened and forced to sign an NOC saying they have no objection to their daughters staying at the ‘children’s home’.

As the state authorities didn’t cooperate, NCPCR wrote to the Chief Secretary and DGP based on the 85 page report submitted by SCPCR. It accused authorities of the Department of Social Welfare of not taking their calls, supporting the Christian school and obstructing the rescue operation. Geeta Jeevan, Minister of Social Justice and Welfare, is a Christian and positions in the department are predominantly occupied by Christians.

Now, the DMK government has sent a team of its own to ‘inspect and investigate’. This team declared that there are no conversion attempts and that the prevailing issues are very minor. The director of the institution claims that as the institute has been running for more than 100 years it will not come under any charges levelled by NCPCR. The latter had accused the institution of violating the norms of the Juvenile Justice Act.

A representative of the institution came on TV to say that the girls want to wear jeans and t-shirts, let their hair free, not to pin dupatta and allow their parents inside the living room during the visiting hours. He said that they have a code of conduct which cannot be breached to meet these demands. NCPCR Chairman who shared his remarks commented that “this is namby-pamby nonsense”.

Dravidianists have been sharing pictures of Saraswati Rangaswamy, the chief of SCPCR, with ex-CM E Palanisamy and late CM Jayalalithaa to discredit the conversion charges. It should be brought to the readers’ attention that Christian priests have claimed that the DMK government was installed by them and CM MK Stalin himself accepted it and repeated it in an event organised by CSI Church. 

The Stalin government behaved the same way in the case of Lavanya, a 17 year old Hindu girl who took her life unable to bear the pressure to convert. School Education Minister Anbil Mahesh and Social Justice and Welfare Minister Geeta Jeevan supported the school management saying they have recordings of other students to prove that there were no conversion activities. Trichy DMK MLA Inigo Irudaya Raj felicitated the warden who is the main accused in Lavanya’s death. With such history, it would be surprising only if the DMK government didn’t come to aid the Christian institution. NCPCR should exercise it’s powers to rescue the girls.

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