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Missionaries of Charity booked for forced conversion of shelter home girls

Missionaries of Charity booked for forced conversion of shelter home girls

Vadodara: The Mother Teresa founded Missionaries of Charity has been booked under the Gujarat Freedom of Religion Act, 2003 for the alleged hurting of Hindu religious sentiments, luring young girls to Christianity in its shelter home and forced religious conversion, The Indian Express reports.

An FIR was lodged in Makarpura police station on Sunday based on a complaint from District Social Defence Officer Mayank Trivedi, who, along with the Chairman of the Child Welfare Committee of the district, had visited the Home for girls run by the organisation on December 9. However, the organisation has denied the charges while the police have initiated a probe into the matter.

According to the FIR, Trivedi, during his visit, has found that girls at the Home were forced to read Christian religious texts and participate in Christian prayers, intending to convert them to Christianity. He said that the institution had been involved in activities to hurt the Hindu sentiments intentionally from February 10, 2021, to December 9. The girls were forced to wear the holy cross, and the Bible was placed in their storerooms to compel them to read it. These were attempted crimes of forced religious conversion, the FIR read.

The Child Welfare Committee had stated in their complaint that Missionaries of Charity had forced a Hindu girl to marry her to a Christian family as per Christian traditions. The girls in the Home were fed non-vegetarian food despite being Hindus, the complaint alleged.

But Missionaries of Charity responded that they are not involved in any religious conversion activity. There are 24 girls in the Home, and they just follow the organisation's practices and prayers, but not done out force.

Assistant Police Commissioner SB Kumavat said that the District Collector had directed to book a case against the organisation after a committee probed Trivedi's allegations. Police will investigate the charges and gather evidence to see if they are true. In the case where Missionaries of Charity allegedly converted a woman from Punjab, Vadodara Police Commissioner Shamsher Singh told The Indian Express that they have begun a probe based on the complaint. There are exhaustive guidelines in place for shelter homes, he said. The police will examine the case based on FIR, he added.

The FIR charged the organisation with IPC sections for deliberate and malicious acts to outrage feelings of any class by insulting its religious beliefs (295 A), deliberately uttering words to wound the religious feelings of a person (298) and the Gujarat Freedom of Religion Act, 2003, which prohibits forcible conversion (Section 3) and punishment for forcible conversion with a term of three years imprisonment and a fine of Rs 50,000 and, in case of a minor being the 'victim of forceful conversion', imprisonment of four years and a fine of up to Rs 1 lakh (Section 4).

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