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23 Mar 2019, 03:42 HRS IST
  • PTI
  • Missionaries of Charity not involved: CBCI; Mamata accuses BJP of maligning order

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0:20 HRS IST

(Incorporating related stories)

Ranchi/Kolkata, Jul 12 (PTI)
The Catholic Bishop Conference of India today claimed that the Missionaries of Charity is not involved in the alleged baby racket at its shelter home 'Nirmal Hriday' in Ranchi and called for a fair inquiry to get to the root of the matter.

CBCI general secretary Theodore Mascarenhas said if a sister of the order is found to be involved in the racket, the entire Missionaries of Charity should not be painted as being involved in this "inhuman act".

"Missionaries of Charity of Mother Teresa is not at all involved in the recent incident of sale of children from its shelter Nirmal Hriday," the bishop claimed at a press conference in Ranchi.

He said he was confident that Sister Konsalia was not involved in the "very inhuman act" of sale of children.

The sister was arrested on July 5 for allegedly selling a child born to a minor inmate of the shelter home to a couple from Uttar Pradesh and sent to jail custody for 14 days.

She had told the MoC lawyer yesterday that she was not involved in this racket and her statement has been taken "under pressure" by the police, Mascarenhas said.

"But even if she was, the entire MoC must not be painted as if it was running a racket of sale of children across Jharkhand," Mascarenhas said.

Ranchi SSP Anish Gupta dismissed the charges of the bishop and the sister are "baseless and unfounded".

"Police have rescued the three children sold by the MoC only on the basis of the interrogation of the sister and the inputs from her," he said.

The third of the four children sold by the shelter and rescued by the police from Simdega on Wednesday was returned to his adopted parents by the CWC today. The parents were directed to produce him before the CWC every week for the next two months, officials said.

MoC headquarters in the city said it stood by its earlier statement that necessary action was being taken to find out the truth.

"We have nothing more to add. As stated earlier, the MoC is looking into the charges against the accused employees in Jharkhand with all seriousness. We will take every necessary action to find out the truth," Sunita Kumar, spokesperson of the organisation, told PTI.

"The MoC will refrain from giving any more interviews on this matter now," she said.

In Kolkata, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee accused the BJP of targeting MoC and maligning it over the alleged child racket, while CPI-M general secretary Sitaram Yechury said that law should be allowed to take its own course in the case.

"Mother Teresa herself set up Missionaries of Charity. And now they are also not being spared. Malicious attempts to malign their name. The Sisters are being targeted. #BJP want to spare no one. Highly condemnable. Let MOC continue to do their work for the poorest of the poor (sic)," tweeted Banerjee.

When asked by reporters later, she said, "If any individual committed some mistake you can take action, but you (BJP) cannot say Missionaries of Charity is bad."

Yechury said there should not be any harassment of the nuns or prosecution before the charge is proved, he said.

"Mother Teresa's (MoC) is a renowned and respected organisation. Despite our differences, we have the highest respect for them. It (the charge) is unbelievable. Let the law take its own course," he told a press conference.

Mascarenhas, when asked to comment on police's contention that the case should be referred to a central investigating agency in view of the large sums of foreign money reaching the organisation, said, "There should be a fair inquiry."

He said, "So why is there so much hurry in considering CBI inquiry in this matter when till date a CBI inquiry has not been ordered in the Kochang gang-rape case of Khunti."

Five NGO workers were allegedly gangraped at gunpoint in Khunti district of Jharkhand on June 19 and the NCW report on the incident had focussed directly on the role of Father Alphonso Aiend, the manager of the school from where they were abducted. Aiend was arrested by the state police.

"I am confident that the Father is innocent and he will prove to be so. Let there be a fair inquiry," he said.

Responding to a question on huge inflow of foreign funds for Missionaries and Charity in the state and its alleged misuse for purposes other than charity, he said, The Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act is very tough and there is no question of misuse of funds received from other countries as donations.

To a query on the relationship between Christian missionaries in the country and the NDA government, Mascarenhas said "Our relations with the central government is very good. We have a very good relationship with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Home Minister Rajnath Singh.

"There are some elements who try to threaten the Catholic Church. But Catholic Church is known to serve better when they are under threat," he added.

Asked to comment on the inquiry by Child Welfare Committee into the alleged racket, Mascarenhas shot back What is CWC, first of all there should be an inquiry against the CWC itself.

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