Indian government has banned the charity organisation founded by Mother Teresa, from obtaining donations from abroad
In a shocking move, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in India has declined to renew the foreign-funding licence for a charity founded by Nobel Laureate Mother Teresa in West Bengal. On Christmas Day, India’s home ministry announced it had not renewed its registration due to “adverse inputs”.
The Ministry of Home Affairs said the renewal application under Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) for renewal of FCRA registration of Missionaries of Charity was refused on December 25 for not meeting eligibility conditions under FCRA 2010 & Foreign Contribution Regulation Rules (FCRR), 2011.
The Missionaries of Charity (MoC) is a Catholic organisation that runs over 240 homes for orphans, AIDS patients and the destitute across India. The Kolkata-based charity was founded in 1950 by Mother Teresa, a Roman Catholic nun who moved to India from her native Macedonia.
It is one of the world’s best-known charities where hundreds of youngsters from around the world come to volunteer every year. Mother Teresa was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 for her humanitarian work. In 2016, nineteen years after her death, she was declared a saint by Pope Francis.
In a statement on Monday, the charity confirmed that its renewal application had been denied, and that it would not operate any foreign funding accounts “until the matter is resolved”.
Ever since it came to power, the government of India, under Prime Minister Narendra Modi has tried to squeeze foreign funding for charities and other NGOs based in India. Last year, similar restrictions led to the freezing of bank accounts of Greenpeace and Amnesty International operating in India. Only last week, the Gujarat police registered a First Information Report (FIR) against the Missionaries of Charity for allegedly luring young girls into Christianity and hurting “Hindu religious sentiments.”
The sudden move to deny FCRA registration of the MoC comes amidst reports of large-scale violence and destruction of churches taking place around the country by right wing groups owing allegiance to the ruling party.
These Hindu groups have for years accused Christian missionaries of forcibly converting poor Hindus by offering them money, food, education or other support as bribes. Missionaries have denied all such claims. Australian missionary Graham Staines was burnt alive with his two young sons in 2003 by one such Hindu fundamentalist group after similar allegations were levelled against him.
In recent weeks, there have been several attacks on religious minorities across India. According to a report by the Evangelical Fellowship of India (EFI), attacks have been mostly in the southern state of Karnataka, with nearly 40 reports of threats or violence from January to November this year.
The frequency, according to Christian representatives, has increased since October, when the ruling BJP state government, announced it was working on a “strong” law against religious conversion in the state.
Critics have described the current draft of the bill as “draconian” as it includes jail terms of up to 10 years for those found guilty of converting others by “force”, “fraudulent” methods or marriage, and could lead to a denial of government benefits for those who get converted. The bill is strikingly similar to a law introduced last year in Uttar Pradesh, also governed by the BJP, where they target so called ‘love jihad’.