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Mother Teresa’s charity probed over claims it forced girls to wear cross and read Bible

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Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Photo: Mandel Ngan

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Photo: Mandel Ngan

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Photo: Mandel Ngan

A charity founded by the late Mother Teresa is being investigated by police in India as the Hindu nationalist government intensifies its oppression of the country’s Christian minority.

Authorities in the western state of Gujarat, the birthplace of leader Narendra Modi, are probing whether Missionaries of Charity forced girls in a shelter home to wear a cross and read the Bible.

It is one of several states that have criminalised “forceful conversion” since the prime minister was re-elected in 2019. In the state of Uttar Pradesh, at least 80 people, most of them Muslims, have been jailed after being accused of trying to convert Hindus.

While India is a Hindu-majority country it is also home to 28 million Christians, who make up 2.3pc of its population. It is a community dating back to AD 52 but activists say Christians now face greater persecution than at any time in recent Indian history.

In the city of Vadodara in Gujarat, child welfare authorities alleged that 13 Bibles were found in the library of the Missionaries of Charity shelter home and that girls had been forced to read them and wear the cross. The charity denies the allegation.

It was founded in 1950 by Mother Teresa, a Catholic nun who lived and worked in the city of Kolkata for most of her life and won the Nobel Peace Prize. It is active in more than 130 countries and runs orphanages and schools for children who have been abandoned.

Pope Francis is expected to raise the targeting of Christians when he visits India next year, the first visit by a pope to the subcontinent since 1999. There have been more than 300 anti-Christian incidents in India this year alone. Last week, a 200 to 300-strong mob of right-wing Hindus threw stones at a Christian school in Madhya Pradesh while students were taking their exams.

“We moved the children from the auditorium to another wing of the school. We kept them on the first floor and gave them extra time to finish the exam. But the students couldn’t write – they were crying and shivering,” said Anthony Tynumkal, the principal.

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Telegraph Media Group Limited [2022]


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