Missionary schools, hostels, and shelter homes in Madhya Pradesh are mocking the law of the state. Case by case, the shocking truth is unearthed in these institutions. Recently, the Madhya Pradesh Child Commission (MP-SCPCR) teams visited a hostel where orphan kids were kept illegally in the Alirajpur district. They recovered the Bible in large numbers, changed the surnames of the students with contraceptives, and much more. Out of all the shocking facts about the home, one remains at the top, as per which the hostel has been operating in a tribal area for almost 35 years without renewing its registration.
Following the MP SCPCR’s visit, an FIR has been registered against the warden. Also, the National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights has taken cognizance of the matter and issued a notice to the district collector.
Old age home and Child home in the same building
The teams of the MP SCPCR, led by Onkar Singh, visited the Masihi Higher Secondary School campus in the Jobat area of the Alirajpur district on July 24. The shelter home turned hostel was operated in a campus where there was a hospital, and the old-age home and the child home were operated in the same building with different floors.
The home provided shelter to 71 students, of whom 59 were minors. Out of 59, the girls are 35 in number. It turned out that these students were orphans, and the organisation was not authorised to keep them. Taking note of this, the members checked for a registration certificate for the child’s home but found none. The hostel has been in place for over 35 years without proper paperwork.
As of now, for breaching the Juvenile Justice Act, An FIR (367/2023, at the Jobat police station on July 24) has been registered against the chairperson of the organisation, Kalpana Daniel.
Condoms and Surgical equipment were recovered
While speaking with Organiser, Onkar Singh said, the team recovered a number of peculiar items from the school, the most shocking of which were packets of condoms and surgical equipment. Singh said, the equipment was not in use for any experiment, and if they did, there was no need for them to be placed in a hostel.
He added, the team recovered a Bible placed by the beds of students in the hostel. Shockingly, all these students are Adivasis.
Double Surname used by students
Singh and the team brought the records of the students, which shows that the children at the shelter home underwent conversion on paper but not completely. The names of the students in these documents have double surnames, the first being tribal and the last being Christian. For example, if a student’s name was Anita Tirke, upon admission to this hostel, it changed to Anita Tirke Mathew.
35 years without registration
Madhya Pradesh and the whole country have laws for children, from keeping them at hostels or shelter homes to education institutions, there are separate laws for children of different age groups. However, the organisation followed none of them.
If they did, they would have made efforts to relocate the orphans, who can only stay at an orphanage.
It is pertinent to mention that after the visit made by the SCPCR, the children have been relocated to government orphanages. As per the reports, out of 71 children, 15 have been relocated to Indore, 15 to Mandu and 37 children were returned to their respective parents. The rest four never appeared before the commission after their visit.
The NCPCR’s intervention
As per a letter (number–476/2023), the commission observed that the registration of the shelter home was missing, which is a violation of Section 41 of the JJ Act. It added that the children are kept at the shelter home without meeting any guidelines by the CWC (Child Welfare Commission). The commission also said that the SIR and ICP of the children were not prepared.
The commission added that, prima facie, it looks like the children were kept illegally in the shelter home. The commission also believes that it may be an apprehension, that the children kept in the shelter home might be trafficked.
Further, the commission directed the DM to present an Action Taken Report within three days to the issue of the notice.
The Foreign Funding angle
Speaking with Organiser, Singh said, the shelter home is located in the tribal belt of Madhya Pradesh, and the documents relating to government aid were not recovered. However, the authorities at the shelter home did admit to taking foreign aid. The documents for the same, showing links to Singapore, were recovered.
Similar cases from the past
Organiser has been reporting such cases in the past as well, some of them are listed below:
On May 29, teams of the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) raided a child home in Madhya Pradesh’s Katni district suspecting religious conversion. During the surprise inspection drive the team found that minors were forced to offer Christian religious prayers, barred from visiting temples and follow Hindu religious customs.
In May 2023, Organiser reported a case where the members of SCPCR raided Saint Francis Child Home located in Sagar district of Madhya Pradesh where they found children from the shelter home were missing, there were irregularities in the documentation, cases of child labour, illegal conversion and forced religious practices.
In April 2023 Organiser reported a similar inspection drive was done at Nirmal Jyoti Convent School in Bina city located in the Sagar district by the SCPCR. The members found that students were forced to offer Christian prayers at the school. Also, Hindu students faced suspension for wearing Kalawa and Tilak at school.
In March 2023, Organiser reported details of one such inspection drive at Saint Peter’s school located in the Gwalior district of Madhya Pradesh. The SCPCR members found that the registration of the school was missing, land allotted for agriculture was used for residential purposes, copies of religious texts in thousands were recovered and the students were forced to offer religious prayers compulsorily.
In March 2023, Organiser reported details from another inspection drive made by the SCPCR team, at Saint Mary’s School located in the Morena district of Madhya Pradesh. During the inspection drive the teams found illegal stuff from the principal’s office such as packets of contraceptives and bottles of alcohol.
In the same month, Organiser reported another case where an FIR was registered against the authorities of the Missionary school in the Mandla district of Madhya Pradesh. Members of MP SCPCR and Chairperson Onkar Singh did a surprise inspection drive at various schools and hostels in the area. During the drive, they found irregularities at the Saint Joseph hostel. The students also reported forced religious conversions by the authorities.
In the first week of March, Organiser did a ground report in the tribal area of Madhya Pradesh, Dindori. The NCPCR and SCPCR members did a surprise inspection at a missionary school (JDES convent) and the hostel located in the Junwani village. Students reporting the case were mostly Tribals. During this drive, the boys’ students told visitors about the physical assault and the vulnerable hostel conditions. At the same time, the girls told CWC about the sexual abuse by the administrators. In his single visit, as many as seven FIRs were registered against the authorities.