Third baby-selling case filed against Mother Teresa nuns

Complaints of selling babies from a center for unwed mothers are seen as a tactic to tarnish Christian services
Third baby-selling case filed against Mother Teresa nuns

People demonstrate in front of the headquarters of the Missionaries of Charity congregation in Kolkata on July 8, 2018, following the arrest of a nun on charges of selling a baby. A third such case was filed on Nov. 9. (Photo: IANS) 

Police have filed a third baby-selling case against Missionaries of Charity nuns in India’s Ranchi city, making church leaders demand an impartial probe into the allegations.

Police in Jharkhand state, ruled by the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), filed the case on Nov. 9 based on the complaint of a couple.

The complaint said nuns and a staff member of Nirmal Hriday (tender heart) care home for unwed mothers, run by Missionaries of Charity in state capital Ranchi, sold off the couple's baby after the woman gave birth in the home.

It was the third such case against the home, less than two weeks after police began an investigation into a second allegation on Oct. 30.

In the first case, police arrested Sister Concelia Baxla, who ran the home, in July 2018. A childless couple complained that staff member Anima Indwar took money after promising to give them a baby but failed to do so.

The nun remained in jail for more than a year until Sept. 27 when she was given bail. The second complaint came just three weeks after the 62-year-old nun was released.

The second complaint came from a schoolgirl who said she delivered a child in 2013 after being admitted to the home when she was six months pregnant after being raped. The home sold the baby without the consent of her or family, she said.

The latest complaint from the couple said their child was born out of wedlock but they wanted to keep the baby now because they have decided to marry. But they claimed that Indwar said this would not be possible..

The couple’s statement to police said nuns of the home, Indwar and two staff of a government hospital joined together to sell their baby.

Church leaders are upset about the series of complaints against Missionaries of Charity nuns and say they aim to tarnish the image of Christians in the state.

“These complaints coming one after another are a conspiracy to tarnish the Christian community and their services,” Father Anand David Xaxo, public relations officer of the Archdiocese of Ranchi, told ucanews.

“Very strategically, they use media space to project the services of Missionaries of Charity nuns as criminal activity.” 

Missionaries of Charity, founded St. Teresa of Kolkata, has been acclaimed in India and abroad for dedicated services for the "poorest of the poor" and abandoned people.

Projecting them in a poor light makes it easy to tarnish the entire services of Christian missionaries and keeps people away from them, said Father Xaxo.

The allegations come against a backdrop of Christians facing a hostile atmosphere in the state after the BJP took power in 2014. Hindu groups, who consider themselves supporters of the BJP, are accused of accelerating action to make India a Hindu-only nation.

Christian leaders say Christians have faced hundreds of attacks and cases of harassment in Jharkhand.

As the state is facing an election by the end of this year, these cases also could help diminish the Christian influence in individual pockets of the country, Christian leaders suspect.

Jharkhand has close to 1.5 million Christians, almost all tribal people, in a population of 32 million. Its 4.3 percent Christian population is nearly double that of the national figure.

Missionaries of Charity has 5,000 nuns in over 770 houses, 243 of them in India. They run homes for the destitute and dying besides shelter homes for unwed mothers and orphanages.

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