Christian Pastor Arrested for Forcing ‘Shelter Home’ Children to Beg in Hyderabad

A Christian pastor, M James, was arrested yesterday for duping minor children and forcing them into begging at traffic signals in the IT Corridor in Hyderabad, on the pretext of providing education to them at his orphanage ‘Bhrama Puthra Social Service Society’, police said.

As per this report –

“Over the past few days, the accused M James, had deployed at least four children at different locations under Gachibowli Police Station limits in Hyderabad with a donation box and made them seek alms on the pretext of contributing money for providing education to orphans housed at an orphanage in Ameenpur area on the city outskirts, police said.

“Acting on a tip-off, police asked the children about the orphanage, who informed them about James stating that he had asked them to seek donations from motorists in the name of providing education to children at the orphanage,” Gachibowli Police Station Sub-Inspector (SI) Ch Venkatesh said. A joint police team of Gachibowli and Ramachandrapuram police stations went to Ameenpur and found that around 20 children, all of whom were below 14 years of age, were at the orphanage run by James.

Gachibowli is a high-end part of Hyderabad which houses most of the city’s high-end tech companies. Another report sheds more light on the plight of the children kept captive and abused by pastor James –

“It was six years ago that Sharada, a single parent daily wage worker from Jagadgirigutta entrusted her two sons to pastor James. But on Thursday Gachibowli police picked up four children including hers, for begging with a donation box before Tata Consultancy Service (TCS) office and IIIT junction in IT Corridor. Further investigation took police to the doorsteps of Bhrama Puthra Social Service Society, a private childrens home run by Pastor James.

It did not end there. Officials of Child Welfare Committee(CWC) and Gachibowli Police were baffled to find out a total of 19 children(including five girls) in despair at the home. Pastor James was taken into custody and the children aging between six and 14 years were immediately rescued and transferred them temporarily to Mahima Ministries orphanage home for a night. The children were moved to the Rengareddy district welfare homes on Friday.

“He(Pastor James) sent us out for begging on Independence day and the days after that. He said we needed the money to pay the fees for those of us who study at private schools,” said Sharada’s son. His brother(name withheld) said that James used to beat them. “Never tell anyone that we had parents, he would threaten us by saying he will throw us out,” he recalled.

I am sorry for doing this to you two, all I wanted for you both was an education far away from what I am going through,” said Sharada, as she wept holding close both her sons on Friday. She was informed by the Gachibowli police earlier that day after her sons provided the police with her contact details.

Sharada said she got in touch with pastor James though her brother in law.”I had no idea it was an orphanage, he said to us this was a hostel. He gave us written assurance on paper that they will provide my children with good school and facilities, they didn’t take any money from us either,” said Sharada.

“I was at the orphanage for just 23 days but on independence day he told me beg with the donation box,” said one of the rescued girl who was forced to beg. The girl is the niece of Sharada and was sent to the orphanage upon insistence by pastor James.

CWC to decide future of children:

“We found the children living in dirty surroundings, three of the children have very high fever and there were just too many mosquitoes in there, the place was unfit for children to live,” said K Aruna Kumar, legal officer with Women and child Welfare Department. Only two of the 19 children were actually orphans, rest of the children had either both parents or a single parent, said Aruna adding “We will be keeping the best interests of the children in mind before taking a decision, we have to look at if the parents can afford to take care of these children”

Pastor james has been booked under the juvenile justice act and the prevention of begging act.

SCPCR issues notices to collector:

On asking how an unregistered home was allowed to operate in the city, Achyuta Rao, member of the State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (SCPCR) said: “There are allegations against Mahima homes (another Christian children shelter home) that they are involving children in the construction work of their hostel.

In Hyderabad there are a number of homes which has become a commercial activity and many homes do not even have the Fit institution certificate to run a home.” The SCPCR has issued a notice to the Medak district collector and magistrate seeking an enquiry and action  on both the orphanage and the officials who allowed the orphanage to run without a Fit institution certificate.

Appeal to check all children homes:

“Bhrama Putra was an unregistered home, running one is also a crime,” said M S Chandra, ChildLine director whose team along with the police raided the unregistered orphanage.”We have to see the economic status of the children before we rehabilitate them. The decision will be on a case to case basis. We will approach the collector to form a district level committee to check all the children homes and we appeal to the community if they suspect such cases of child abuse to call 1098″ he added.”

Sophisticated Missionaries Appropriate Hindu Parlance, Exploit FCRA route

Such cases of unscrupulous Christian missionaries preying on children and exploiting them under the garb of shelter, education and vocational training are not new. Sadly, the situation is not much better in many State run homes, which is probably forcing poor parents to entrust their children with such predatory soul harvesters.

It is interesting to note that the illegal home being run by pastor James was called ‘Bhrama Puthra Social Service Society’ – this is the level of deceit that the missionary mafia has developed that they are now blatantly appropriating names of Hindu deities and even Sanskrit/indigenous language terminology for their establishments. So beware the next time you hear of a society/NGO with the terms ‘seva’, ‘ashram’, ‘sansthan’, ‘sahara’, ‘grama’ etc – do not automatically assume that it is a Hindu/secular orgnaization…delve deeper into the stated goals and board of trustees before you make any donation.

Also, the article quoted above say that children rescued from the home run by M James were put up in a Mahima ministry hostel for a night – this begs the question on why the State decided to entrust a private missionary run hostel with the well-being of these traumatized children, even if only for a night? And this when the Government body SCPCR’s representative says there are allegations against Mahima homes that they are involving children in the construction work of their hostel? Mahima Ministries is also a foreign-funded NGO as per this rigorously researched FCRA analysis.

Pattern of abuse in Christian children shelters

Lets look at some of the other cases from recent times where children shelter/education homes/hostels run by Christian missionaries/’philanthropists’ were exposed as nothing better than slave camps and conversion factories:

  • Dec 2015: Forcibly converted to Christianity, hung by the wrists from a ceiling fan, starved for days and beaten mercilessly for failing to recite Bible passages—this is what a nine-year-old boy said he had to endure at an illegal shelter. He was among 30 children, all from poor families, rescued on December 29 after police raided two homes run by the Emmanuel Seva Group [also known as Charity Seva Groupsee more] in Greater Noida and Meerut. The child, who along with his younger sister and brother had been confined to the home for three years, said their stay was like a “jail term” during which his name was also changed. The children were forced to consume buffalo meat and paraded before potential donors.

The children had two names – one which their parents gave them and the other a Christian name the home’s director gave them in Dehradun after reading a Bible. A mother who had sent her two daughters to the home was told she would have to pay Rs 1.5 lakh to get each daughter back. The Seva Group has its headquarters in Delhi’s Shalimar Bagh and has two other Noida addresses. The director is Devraj Gowda (aka Joshua Devraj), whose wife Anita was present at the children’s home when the raid took place. Anita Gowda refuted the charges of conversion. “I am myself a Hindu, why would we convert these kids to Christianity? I agree it is our fault that there was no registration yet of the home, but there was no conversion. We just follow Mother Teresa.

  • Mar 2013: Manipur kids suffered sexual, physical abuse in illegal Christian Children’s home in Jaipur. In all, 53 children were rescued. The man who single-handedly ran this home, Pastor Jacob John, was taken into police custody. Between 2004 -09, batches of children went back home from this shelter with severe physical deformities, and complaints of sexual abuse — and in one case even pregnant. Four children reportedly died on their way back home. Other children who were pulled out of the illegal home came back with severe physical deformities, particularly knock knees, and mental retardation. The children were brought from the north east to Grace Home with promises of education, food and care. Grace Home was being run illegally and had no paperwork. It is still not clear how Grace Home was funded, but pictures of smiling children with foreign volunteers on its notice board hint at foreign funding.
  • April 2016: A counsellor working at St Catherine’s Home in Amboli, Andheri (West) —home to over 300 underprivileged girls, aged between four and 20 — has alleged cruelty towards the young women at the hands to the shelter staff. The Christian nuns who run the home-cum-shelter — which also has day boarders — were verbally abusive and also beat the girls with sticks and chappals. “One inmate told me that on February 3, she was forced to rub her nose on a staff member’s sandal and apologise for drinking water from a water tap. When she refused, she was beaten and made to write sorry on a piece of paper 100 times.” A child narrates how on Sundays they would be served non-vegetarian food, ordered from the donations received. Vegetarian inmates, too, would be forced to eat rice with non-vegetarian gravy. Their other option was to starve. A sister even told a child ‘where you have come from, the way you act and wear lipstick, you look like a va***ya (prostitute)’.

With such horrendous cases being reported, one wonders why news-magazines like Outlook do not care to do an investigative story on the Christian shelter home racket – this is true trafficking & exploitation, unlike the 31 tribal girls from Assam studying in well-managed, safe RSS run hostels with due permission of parents.

What should be the Hindu response?

Hindus have to realize that we are faced with an existential threat due to the deep penetration of missionary organizations in our body politic. All kinds of illegal, exploitative rackets and child trafficking is flourishing in the name of social justice and children’s rights. We must take the following steps at once :

1.) Realize the true nature of many of these ‘neutral’ sounding missionary organizations which are now flourishing all around us. Many MNCs & even blue-chip desi companies fund these closet missionary organizations like World Vision through CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) or campaign for donations through ‘Employee Giving’ programs. Do not donate any money unless you are 100% sure of the background of the organization and its objectives – protest with your HR if you see any dubious organization registered as an approved charity in your company. Educate others about this politically incorrect but grim reality.

2.) Donate to Hindu groups which are doing sterling work for children, women, tribals and the poor. Many of the RSS affiliated orgs like Ekal Vidyalaya, Vanvasi Kalyan AshramSewa International etc are doing sterling work and will ensure optimum utilization of your donation. Or donate to well-run private temple trusts like Shri Gajanan Maharaj, Shegaon which will ensure your contribution reaches needy Hindus. Or just help any needy Hindu in your personal circle like maid, watchman etc.

3.) Push your local, state, national Governments to improve state run shelters and demand accountability for social upliftment program outcomes. We need to educate ourselves on the laws in place, to demand answers from our representatives.  Insist on Hindu temple donations being utilized only for Hindu causes.

4.) Hindu organizations need to up their game, and make use of digital channels for fund raising. Email newsletters, online payment gateways, Google Ad-words, crowd funding etc are some of the options which many Hindu organizations are lagging on today – if you have the technical know-how, reach out to the nearest Hindu org and offer to help them with fund raising. One org doing great work for connecting Hindu NGOs with corporates is Seva Sahayog

5.) Encourage new digital media outlets that bring the true picture of what is happening in our society, rather than the sanitized, secularized version dished out by mainstream media. When media can stoop to cooking up stories to paint Hindu orgs like RSS in a bad light such as the #BabyLift story by Outlook, why are they silent on the real trafficking and exploitation of poor children which is clearly a serious systemic problem? Donate to media outlets like HinduPost to help us serve the community and report the stories that matter.