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Thursday, November 30, 2023

“Vacate girls in 24 hours”, NCPCR writes to TN Chief Secretary over forced conversion in Christian school

The Chairman of the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights(NCPCR) has written to the Chief Secretary of Tamil Nadu, seeking him to remove inmates of a Christian school hostel in 24 hours. The commission has leveled conversion charges against the school run by Church of South India(CSI) in Chennai. The hostel is reportedly not registered with the government and lacks safe infrastructure.

Tamil media reported that the NCPCR Chairman has written a letter to the Chief Secretary and DGP of the police department, asking them to evacuate girls from a Christian school hostel in Chennai. The letter was written after the Chairman of the State Commission for Protection of Child Rights(SCPCR) and other members of the commission paid a surprise visit to the CSI Monahan Girls Higher Secondary School on September 6.

Ilegal CSI Institution forces girls to convert

It was part of the state commission’s regular inspection duty. The team headed by SCPCR Chairman Saraswati Rangaswamy found that the inmates of the hostel attached to the school were brought from poor families and forced to follow Christianity. It was also found that the hostel aka Child Care Institution(CCI) was not registered. SCPCR sent a report to NCPCR mentioning that the girls had sought help and wanted to be rescued from the place.

The team had shared its contact details and Mr.James from the District Child Protection Office(DCPO) had immediately instructed the Child Welfare Committee (CWC) and DCPO to rescue the girls from the hostel on the same day. However the state commission received a call from the girls on September 9, saying that they haven’t been rescued yet and that the warden has started abusing them following the team’s visit. The girls said that the school management also started calling their parents forcing them to give consent to let the girls stay in the said hostel.

SCPCR has accused the authorities of not taking their calls and the Social Justice Department(SJD) of 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. 

Following inaction on the Social Justice Department’s part, NCPCR has taken matters into its hands and written to the Chief Secretary and the DGP seeking them to rescue the girls from the hostel within 24 hours and produce them before the CWC. It has also directed the officials to lodge an FIR and initiate proceedings against the school and people associated with it. They are to be booked under section 42 of the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015, for housing the girls in an unregistered Child Care Institution.

It has instructed the authorities to make a submission consisting of the FIR copy, statements of the children and their parents and other relevant records within 3 days.

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