Bishops, Child Care Facility Unite in Protest Against Government's Alleged Harassment of Church-Run Centers for Children in India


In a united front, the bishops' conference in India and a prominent childcare facility have joined forces to protest against what they perceive as an ongoing pattern of government harassment directed at church-run centers for children. The protests come amid claims that these centers are being targeted under the guise of enforcing India's anti-conversion laws.

Protest Against Government's Harassment 

According to a report from Crux Now, the protests launched by the bishops' conference and the childcare facility underscore their determination to challenge the alleged harassment by the government and protect the religious freedom of church-run centers for children. They demand a fair and unbiased investigation into these incidents and an end to an unwarranted intrusion into the functioning of these vital institutions that cater to the welfare and development of vulnerable children.

As mentioned, Archbishop Felix Machado of Vasai, secretary of the conference, released a statement on Wednesday, May 31, expressing deep concern over three recent incidents in the Diocese of Jabalpur, located in the North Central Indian State of Madhya Pradesh, which is currently governed by the Hindu nationalist party BJP. Moreover, the bishops also emphasized that the common thread among these incidents was the officials' unauthorized entry into the premises, thorough searches, confiscating files, and questioning children about their religious practices. They specifically inquired whether the children were coerced into attending church services or forced to read the Bible.

On the other hand, strongly affirming their commitment to the welfare of children, the prelates asserted that the facilities in question were not engaged in any form of illicit proselytism. They maintained that the centers were solely dedicated to providing essential care, education, and support to vulnerable children, regardless of their religious background. Matters India reported that the statement issued by the bishops' conference assured that the center would vigorously defend itself against any charges in court. Furthermore, it accused the officials, including Raghvendra Singh Kanoongo, the head of the State Commission of Child Rights, of needlessly jeopardizing the well-being and safety of the children under their care.

Also Read: Indian Catholic Bishops Raise Concerns as Criminal Cases Target Church Leaders

Recent Incidents in Alleged Forced Religious Conversion 

The reported that a childcare center in Madhya Pradesh's Katni district has come under scrutiny following allegations of forced religious conversion and mistreatment of minors. The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) led a raid on Monday, May 29, suspecting illicit activities within the premises. During the surprise inspection, the NCPCR team discovered distressing practices at the child's home. Minors were reportedly forced into offering Christian prayers while barred from visiting temples and following Hindu religious customs. These revelations have sparked concerns about violating fundamental rights and religious freedom.

Adding to the gravity of the situation, students at the facility voiced additional grievances, claiming that basic medical amenities were withheld from them. Accordingly, they were allegedly deprived of opportunities to engage in co-curricular activities, hindering their holistic development. Reacting promptly to these distressing findings, NCPCR Chairperson Priyank Kanoongo, along with members of the Child Welfare Committee (CWC), filed a police complaint against the administrators of the child home on Tuesday, May 30.

Related Article: Christian Groups Call for Independent Panel to Address Rising Attacks in India