India suspends foreign funding to Mother Teresa’s charity
New Delhi, Dec 28 (EFE).- The Indian government has refused to renew the approval for receiving foreign donations for the Missionaries of Charity (MoC), founded by Nobel Peace Laureate Mother Teresa of Kolkata, for “not meeting the eligibility conditions,” which has led to the charity’s operations to be suspended and triggered fresh criticism over alleged mistreatment of non-Hindu communities in India.
However, the Catholic charity has clarified that its local bank accounts have not been frozen, after media reports in this regard and opposition leaders lashing out against the government.
The ministry of home affairs said in a statement on Monday that the charity’s renewal application under the Foreign Contributions Regulation Act (FCRA) was not approved due to “not meeting the eligibility conditions under FCRA 2010 and Foreign Contribution Regulation Rules 2011.”
The ministry said that while considering the MoC’s renewal application, “some adverse inputs were noticed,” which led to the application being rejected.
The statement added that the ministry had so far not received any request to review its decision.
It said that the foreign contribution registration of the Missionaries was valid up Oct. 31 and was later extended up to Dec. 31 pending renewal, meaning that the license of the Catholic charity was set to expire on Friday at midnight.
The statement comes after widespread criticism from various quarters, which accused the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a Hindu nationalist leader, of freezing the MoC’s bank accounts as part of religious discrimination.
The chief minister of the state of West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee also expressed indignation over the decision, which was taken on Dec. 25 and notified on Monday evening.
“Shocked to hear that on Christmas, Union Ministry FROZE ALL BANK ACCOUNTS of Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity in India!” Banerjee tweeted.
“Their 22,000 patients & employees have been left without food & medicines. While the law is paramount, humanitarian efforts must not be compromised,” she added.
However, a spokesperson of the charity told EFE that the organization had itself urged banks to stop operations in its foreign accounts, while the domestic accounts were operating normally.
“There is no freeze order by the ministry of home affairs in any of our bank accounts. So we can carry on with our work and whatever needs to be done the sisters will follow,” spokesperson Sunita Kumar said.
“Renewal application has not been approved, therefore as a measure to ensure there is no lapse, we have asked our centers not to operate any of the foreign accounts until the matter is resolved,” she added.
The ministry had also clarified that it was the charity itself which urged the State Bank of India to stop all transactions till the situation became clear.
The traditional religious order, in which the nuns wear the Indian traditional dress sari, currently has 4,500 missionaries in over 130 countries, and mainly works to help leprosy patients, orphans, prostitutes and refugees. EFE