The chairman of National Commission for Protection of Child Rights(NCPCR) paid a surprise visit to a Christian hostel in Madhya Pradesh and found evidence of religious conversion. Chairman Priyank Kanoongo has initiated a probe into it and directed the district administration to send the girls to their parents.
The chairman shared the information about the inspection through a video posted on Twitter. The Bishop Clemens Memorial hostel run by the Sisters of Jesus under the Diocese of Sagar in Raisen, MP was found to be converting girls and imparting special training to them for religious purposes. Established in 2014 the so-called hostel houses 19 girls ageing between 14 to 17. During the inspection the chairman found that the Catholic hostel brought Hindu girls from the Northeast.
The chairman said that the inspection was conducted based on a tip off about conversion activities in the hostel. In the video statement Kanoongo said, “We found that there were 15-20 Hindu tribal girls living in the premises of Christian Missionary hostel. They were taught Christian religious text. There were indications that these children were being groomed for some special project.”
It was revealed that the girls were brought to the hostel on a promise to provide better education. But they were only being sent to government schools nearby and no means for providing education could be found in the hostel premises. Swarajya reported that the hostel is not recognised by the government as a girl’s hostel and hasn’t been registered as a child shelter home either as per the information given in NCPCR’s letter to the District Magistrate.
“The girls are Hindu tribals, but are being taught Christian religious texts. The team found Bible books in the girls’ beds. How the children ended up at the centre is a matter that needs an independent probe”, Kanoongo said. The girls’ notebooks had a daily religious schedule jotted down in them as mandated by the hostel management.
Citing that the hostel violates Article 28(3) of the constitution and the Juvenile Justice Act by imparting religious lessons to children, NCPCR has asked the district Child Welfare Committee to initiate a probe into whether the trust receives foreign funds. Christian portals have reported it as persecution of Christians terming the inspection as “terrifying the girls” and accused Kanoongo of traumatising the girls with “questions and searches”.
Saying that finding some religious literature in the hostel doesn’t prove that they are converting the girls, former spokesperson of the Catholic Bishops Council of India has ‘advised’ NCPCR to rather “ensure the safety and security of thousands of children living in the streets of Indian cities.”