News Analysis Child abuse: Indian Commission seeks only ‘conversions’

Child abuse: Indian Commission seeks only ‘conversions’

02/04/2021: Journalistic investigation accuses the president of the NCPCR, the Indian national body for the rights of the child: “Carry out the Hindutva agenda against Christians and Muslims”. All while in India the Covid-19 pandemic has created over 147 thousand orphans.

“How Hindutva has kidnapped the body for the protection of children”. To launch the heavy accusation against the Hindu nationalist movements that form the political base of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, is an investigation published in these days in India by the information site A phenomenon that deals with a topic that in recent months we have encountered more and more often also in our reports on AsiaNews : the direct involvement of Indian public institutions that are supposed to defend the rights of children in the “anti-conversion” campaigns of Hindu nationalists that go to hit Christian schools and hostels that welcome minors.

As the investigation documents, the issue of conversions has recently become a real obsession for the NCPCR: other cases are remembered such as the assault on St Joseph’s School by Ganj Basoda , which is located in Madhya Pradesh. in the district where Kanoongo originates. At the beginning of December the school was the victim of a violent raid by the usual groups of Hindu nationalists after the Commission had launched an investigation (promptly disclosed by a “friendly site”) based on an evident exploitation: the first communions of 8 children of Christian families from the parish of the same name in St Joseph had been passed off as “conversions” of boys from the school, which is actually somewhere else and has nothing to do with the parish.

Not to mention the story of the accusations against an orphanage of the Sisters of Mother Teresa in Gujarat , also originating from an inspection by the local Committee for the Defense of Children which considered the presence of some Bibles in the house of the nuns. Or the inspection of the girls’ rooms of the Bishop Clemens Memorial Boarding in the diocese of Sagar, also in Madhya Pradesh, personally conducted by Kanoongo.

In the article, the president of the Ncpcr defends himself by claiming to give effect to all the complaints he receives. But the investigation notes a suspected frequency in the actions on the cases raised by the Legal Rights Observatory, an organization based in Maharashtra founded by Vinay Joshi, also from the ranks of the RSS. Kanoongo, however, did not think he had to intervene in 2019, when numerous Muslim minors were stopped by the police as part of demonstrations against the citizenship law and publicly denounced having suffered violence during their detention.

Vandana Prasad, a former member of the NCPCR, calls this use for political purposes of the Commission a “complete abdication of his role”. “But with these organizations – she commented when asked by – it often happens, to the detriment of ordinary citizens and the principles of fairness, justice and equality”.

Shantha Sinha, a historic activist in the fight against child labor in India, who was also president of the NCPCR for two terms from 2007 to 2012, appears prudent but equally worried: “The Commission must play the role of guardian on the condition of childhood: it is the only institution available for children to improve their lives and protect their rights, “he said. He added that the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic should be the Commission’s main concern today.

There would be no lack of reasons to do so: in a report presented to the Supreme Court on January 13, the Commission surveyed over 147,000 minors in the country who were orphaned by Covid-19. The vast majority live with relatives or other carers, while 1843 are in orphanages or other shelters awaiting adoption. Kanoongo claims this work done by the body he chairs, arguing that this is the first census of orphans conducted since the independence of India. And he assures that the NCPCR is offering economic assistance through government programs or by supporting private initiatives. Many organizations working in the field, however, tell a very different picture, with a high number of orphans still seeking assistance.

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