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The Narendra Modi government’s Ministry of Home Affairs has refused to renew permission that is vital for Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act, 2010.
Ironically, this announcement was made on December 25 just when the organization and its members were high spirits of the festival.
The ministry said that the organization’s application was rejected because “while considering the MoC’s renewal application, some adverse inputs were noticed.”
At the time of her beatification in 2003, the Missionaries of Charity (MoC) in Kolkata circulated this poignant quote from Mother (now Saint) Teresa: “We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean but the ocean would be less because of that missing drop.”
The federal government said the accounts of MoC were frozen by the bank based on the request of the charity itself.
Vicar General Dominic Gomes of the Archdiocese of Calcutta said the freeze of the accounts was “a cruel Christmas gift to the poorest of the poor”.
The row comes days after hardline Hindu vigilante groups disrupted Christmas church services in parts of India, including in some states ruled by Modi’s party ahead of local elections in the coming months.
Nobel-laureate Mother Teresa, a Roman Catholic nun who died in 1997, founded the MoC in 1950. The charity has more than 3,000 nuns worldwide who run hospices, community kitchens, schools, leper colonies and homes for abandoned children.
The BJP government has long been suspicious of NGOs and charities funded by overseas contributions and no efforts have been spared to tighten curbs on them–including outright bans on their functioning.
The government has for years sought to squeeze foreign-funded NGOs and charities. In 2020, it tightened restrictions on non-profit groups and previously froze bank accounts of groups such as Greenpeace and Amnesty International.
BJP supporters believe that these foreign-funded NGOs are attempts by Christians to use charity as a means to convert Hindus.
In October this year, the Home Ministry had canceled the foreign funding of Harvest India, a Christian missionary organization, for violating FCRA rules.
“This is a fig leaf. How come only Christian and Muslim organizations are under the government scanner? To date, no Hindu outfit, which constitutes the majority of those who receive foreign donations, has even been questioned,” says human right activist Suhas Chakma, who carries with him a long list of tribals, who have converted to Hinduism in North East India.
The Hindu newspaper on Monday reported disruption of Christmas celebrations at the weekend and last week, including the vandalizing of a life-size statue of Jesus Christ at Ambala in Haryana, a northern state governed by Modi’s nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
It said activists burnt a model of Santa Claus and chanted anti-Christmas slogans outside a church in Varanasi, Modi’s parliamentary constituency and Hinduism’s holiest city.
Elias Vaz, national vice-president of the All India Catholic Union, condemned the latest incidents.
“The strength of India is in its diversity and the people who have done this at Christmas are the real anti-nationals,” Vaz said.