India Freezes Accounts of Mother Teresa Charity Amid Hate Attacks | Religious News

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The government of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has frozen the bank accounts of Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity (MoC) in West Bengal, the political head of state said, after right-wing Hindu groups attacked the celebrations of Christmas.

Several Hindu vigilantes disrupted Christmas mass in parts of India over the weekend, including the parliamentary constituency of Modi in the most populous state of Uttar Pradesh ahead of upcoming local elections. month.

Die-hard Hindu groups affiliated with Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have repeatedly accused the culture ministry of running religious conversion programs under the guise of charity by offering poor Hindus and tribal communities money , free education and shelter.

“Shocked to hear that (at) Christmas the Union Ministry FROZEN ALL BANK ACCOUNTS of Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity in India!” Mamata Banerjee, Chief Minister of West Bengal, wrote in a tweet on Monday.

“Their 22,000 patients and staff were left without food or medicine. While the law is paramount, humanitarian efforts must not be compromised, ”said Banerjee, an opposition leader and vocal critic of the Modi government.

Nobel laureate Mother Teresa, a Roman Catholic nun who died in 1997, founded the Missionaries of Charity in 1950.

Based in the eastern state of West Bengal, the MoC has more than 3,000 nuns around the world who run hospices, community kitchens, schools, leper colonies and homes for abandoned children.

MoC officials were not immediately available for comment, while the federal Home Office said the government will issue a statement once the initial investigation is completed.

“I urge the press not to mix the financial irregularities of a charity group with religious sentiments … the decision to freeze the accounts has nothing to do with Christianity,” an official said, asking for anonymity because he is not allowed to speak to the media.

Vicar General Dominic Gomes of the Archdiocese of Calcutta said the freezing of West Bengal accounts was “a cruel Christmas present to the poorest of the poor.”

Hateful attacks on Christmas weekend

Since Modi came to power in 2014, right-wing Hindu groups have consolidated their position in all states and launched hateful attacks against religious minorities, claiming their action is to prevent religious conversions.

Christians and other critics have said the rationale for preventing conversions is false and note that Christians make up only 2.3% of India’s 1.37 billion people, while Hindus are l he overwhelming majority, representing nearly 80% of the country’s 1.3 billion inhabitants.

Pavni Mittal of Al Jazeera, reporting from New Delhi, said Christmas celebrations were disrupted over the weekend and last week, including the vandalism of a life-size statue of Jesus Christ in Ambala in the Haryana, a northern state ruled by Hindu nationalist BJP de Modi.

“Last Christmas a statue of Jesus Christ was vandalized in northern India and other parts of the country as well. Churches reported that Hindu crowds were entering and disrupting their services, ”she said as she covered a protest against religious attacks in the capital.

Mittal said a crowd burned a model of Santa Claus and chanted slogans against Christmas celebrations and religious conversions on Saturday. Local media reported that the incident took place outside a church in Varanasi, the parliamentary constituency of Modi and one of the holiest cities in Hinduism.

Anoop Shramik, a social activist from Varanasi, told Reuters news agency he saw around two dozen people burn Santa Claus.

Christmas celebrations were also disrupted in Silchar in northeastern Assam state on Saturday after men claiming to be members of Bajrang Dal – a far-right group with links close with the BJP – broke into a church, NDTV news channel reported. .

Contacted by phone, the federal and state governments declined to comment.

Several Indian states have adopted or are considering anti-conversion laws that challenge the freedom of belief and related rights that the Indian constitution guarantees to minorities.

Elias Vaz, national vice president of the Catholic Union of India, condemned the latest incidents.

“India’s strength is in its diversity and the people who made it on Christmas are the real anti-nationals,” Vaz said.

Call for Muslim genocide

The freezing of Culture Ministry bank accounts and attacks on Christmas celebrations came just days after a controversial event was held in the Hindu holy city of Haridwar in northern India, where supporters of the Hindu hard line have called for massacres of Muslim minorities.

The meeting brought together at least one member of Modi’s BJP.

“Even if only a hundred of us become soldiers and kill two million (Muslims), we will be victorious… If you maintain this attitude, only then will you be able to protect ‘sanatan dharma’ (an absolute form Hinduism), ”said one of the speakers at the event.

Another delegate, Prabodhanand Giri, leader of a far-right Hindu group often pictured with senior BJP members, called for a “cleanup” and for those present to be “ready to die or kill”.

Another said he had asked hotels in his state not to allow Christmas celebrations. The statement was greeted with cheers from the public.

Uttarakhand state police said they opened an investigation, but no arrests were made 10 days after the event.

“Over the weekend, several lawyers appealed to the Indian Supreme Court to intervene and take action against what they see as an attack on the unity of India and the lives of millions of fellow Muslims,” he said. Mittal reported from Al Jazeera.

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