The Centre has frozen all bank accounts of the Missionaries of Charity founded by Mother Teresa, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee claimed on Monday.
Expressing shock, Banerjee said that this move has left the Missionaries of Charity’s 22,000 patients and employees without food and medicines.
“Shocked to hear that on Christmas, Union Ministry FROZE ALL BANK ACCOUNTS of Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity in India! Their 22,000 patients & employees have been left without food & medicines,” she tweeted.
“While the law is paramount, humanitarian efforts must not be compromised,” Banerjee added.
Officials at the Missionaries of Charity organisation have refused to comment on the matter. There is also no word from the Centre explaining why, if the accounts have been frozen, action was taken.
However, earlier this month news agency AFP said police in Gujarat were investigating if the Missionaries of Charity had forced girls in a shelter home there to wear a cross and read the Bible.
District social officer Mayank Trivedi told AFP his complaint was based on a report by child welfare authorities. According to him, there were 13 Bibles and girls were forced to read the religious text.
The Missionaries of Charity, founded in 1950 by the late Mother Teresa – a Roman Catholic nun who lived and worked in Kolkata for most of her life and won the Nobel Peace Prize – denied all charges.
Mother Teresa died in September 1997. She was accorded a state funeral for her service to the poor, irrespective of caste and creed. In September 2016 she was elevated to sainthood by Pope Francis.
Father Dominic Gomes, the Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Calcutta, has slammed an “even more dastardly attack on the Christian community”, and said the “bogey of ‘conversion'” was patently false.
“In freezing the bank accounts of Missionaries of Charity… government agencies have given a cruel Christmas gift to the poorest of the poor… Missionaries of Charity Sisters and Brothers are often the only friends of lepers and social outcasts no one will even venture near… this latest attack on the Christian community and their social outreach is even more a dastardly attack on the poorest of India’s poor. We condemn the government action and are appalled by the timing and lack of empathy to consider the humanitarian disaster this decision will cause,” the Father’s statement said.
On the charges of ‘conversion’, Father Gomes said it “boggles the mind” and pointed out that if Christian organisations were intent on conversion “there would be many more Christians in the 2000 years Christianity has been on Indian soil than the 2.3% minority today”.