The news of an asbconding pastor accused of trafficking children being arrested by Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has been the talk of the town recently. It is Pastor Gideon Jacob (62), the founder of Mose Ministries children’s home in Tiruchy funded by Germany-based Christian Initiative for India that was founded by Jacob in 1989, who was arrested by the CBI upon his arrival from Germany for crimes we didn’t get to know from the onslaught of MSM reports, even the investigative ones, about the mismanagement of the so-called orphanage. Jacob has been charged under sections 120 (B), 361, 368, 201, 340, 370 of the IPC.
Yes, there were one or two that reported the trafficking part but it wasn’t highlighted by the media in the same way they usually fall over each other to report about scandalous things.
It all started when Mose Ministries applied for registration for the first time in 2010, since 1994 when it was founded in Usilampatti, Theni, Tamil Nadu before being moved to Tiruchirapalli (Trichy).
The application was returned for rectification of some defects, and what happened thereafter till 2014 when the District Social Welfare Department’s (DSWD) team inspected Mose Ministries’ premises in Trichy is unclear. Upon the findings that it neither obtained a license nor did it get registered, the District Social Welfare Officer (DSWO) issued a show cause notice. The reply sent to this notice seems to have been unsatisfactory to the DSWO which prompted her to issue two more notices.
One year later the DSWO lodged an FIR for offences under the Tamil Nadu Hostels and Homes for Women and Children (Regulation) Act, 2014 and the Juvenile Justice Act, 2000. Police inspected the premises and carried out preliminary inquiry and named Gideon Jacob as the accused. However he was not arrested immediately.
The DSWO, on trying to verify the list of school going children provided by the pastor found out that some of them were not going to the said schools. This was conveyed to the Child Welfare Committee (CWC). Even as the police was verifying the bio-data of the children, the DSWO passed an order directing Mose Ministries to hand over the children above 18 years to DSWD and the ones below 18 years to the CWC.
Children resist Government action against illegal home
Few days later DSWD along with CWC and district Child Protection Unit (CPU) went to seal the premises which was met with the resistance of the children. They did not co-operate with the medical team for check up either. The administration that didn’t even respond to two show cause notices now filed a writ petition challenging the order and proceedings. The court ordered to maintain status-quo and extended it from time to time for nearly 80 days.
Meanwhile, an online petition was started by a German citizen requesting to oppose the actions taken against Mose Ministries. It made an emotional appeal to the district collector of Trichy, ironically, while accusing the Bharatiya authorities of hindering and delaying the official registration of the home. It also accused them of ‘inflicting trauma on the already traumatized children’ by making violent attempts to remove the children from their home.
Till this point of time SWD and CWC’s allegations and offences against Mose Ministries were only about-
(i) not obtaining a licence
(ii) not registering and
(iii) wilfully neglecting the children that likely causes them mental or physical suffering
We have to assume the third offence based on the section under which it was considered as an offence (Section 23 of Juvenile Justice Act) because it isn’t explicitly mentioned anywhere. It is to be noted that these offences aren’t that serious. The first two would have resulted in closing down the institution and the third one in imprisonment upto six months at maximum, or fine, or both.
Emotional and Physical Abuse, Exploitation for overseas fund raising
Unfortunately for Mr. Gideon Jacob, skeletons started tumbling out when an NGO, ‘Change India’ revealed shocking things about the illegal ways of the pastor in running Mose Ministries. The report was prepared by the NGO’s interns who managed to infiltrate the place. They found out that the children were being emotionally abused, isolated, taken to Germany and Poland to perform roadshows, street plays and prayers both in public places and churches to beg for funds, and very likely sexually exploited as well.
“It is against all norms and rules. We suspect that the children are being exploited sexually. My interaction with the inmates convinced me that they are being abused sexually,” Babi Cristina and Vikash Christiraj, MSW students of Loyola College who were interning for the NGO, told The Pioneer.
“They were brought up in an unhygienic, isolated environment, without counsellors, or mentors,” says Christiraj. “The older girls took care of the younger ones; they cooked, cleaned and did domestic chores. No local person, except the Pastor’s friends, ever visited. They were forcibly involved in prayer and groomed for evangelist work.”
Based on the volunteers’ findings, A. Narayanan, director of Change India, filed a petition in Madras High Court in 2015 demanding that Mose Ministries be investigated for violation of children’s rights, trafficking, and exploitation. In its affidavit, Mose Ministries denied all allegations, claiming that the 89 residents had been “left at our doorsteps without any clue about their parentage”. They said the girls were well cared for and should remain in the Home. Narayanan, however, requested that, as per the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Act, which calls institutional care “the last resort”, the girls be reunited with their biological parents.
The gist of the report prepared by Change India is given in this High Court verdict:
When the Pastor’s office was searched, a locked cupboard yielded a register with the parents’ identities and the children’s dates of birth. A Child Welfare Committee member took pictures of it with her phone. Within a day, the register disappeared, prompting an enraged court to order the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to probe allegations of trafficking. It identified eight violations, including obtaining passports by questionable means, illegally taking the children on foreign tours, illegal procurement and emotional abuse of children.
As ‘punishment’, the children were sometimes sent to nearby boarding schools where they were beaten by teachers and wardens and in which they were allowed to take bath only for three days in a week. At times, the girls were taken to the personal farmhouse of Pastor Gideon Jacobs in Villipuram. Jacobs said there they were given tailoring classes and were made to read the bible to impart ‘discipline’; however, he was unable to name the teachers who taught tailoring classes in Villipuram.
All norms flouted, no proper records
Following this revelation, the court appointed an Additional District Judge (ADJ) to visit Mose Ministries and submit a report on the following.
(i)The infrastructural facilities available in the building;
(ii)The status of the girls housed in the home in question;
(iii)The identification of the children with reference to the area from which they hail;
(iv)The Registers maintained in the home about the location from which and the parents from whom the children were procured and other details.
The children, who the administrators maintained were orphans, turned out to have parents who they were never told about. The pastor indulged in devious, unlawful ways to procure the children which will be discussed later. From the parts of the ADJ report highlighted by the judges we come to know that though adequate infrastructural facilities like toilet, sanitation and drinking water were provided and CCTV cameras were installed – a) there was no watchman b) one of the girls acted as the warden and c) no mechanism to report sexual abuse
It further uncovered the fact that even though there were people acting as warden, cook, etc there really wasn’t any proof that they took care of the children’s needs. The children are said to have spoken only of an inmate nominated as the person responsible to run the day to day activities of the place as warden. In addition of taking care of themselves, the girls are made to clean the house of their Pastor Gideon Jacob and cook for him and his family. It is also alleged that the Pastor made these girls work in priest homes abroad.
A number of registers to be maintained under Rule 67 of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Rules were either not to be found or maintained poorly. The poorly maintained ones include attendance register, visitors register, staff movement register and staff register (available only from Oct 2014 as on 28,29th Nov,2015). Neither were the salary vouchers produced for inspection in spite of repeated demands. This establishes the fact that even the available registers were there only for appearance and that no adult was appointed to monitor and take care of the children. The ones set up by the administration as deputed staff didn’t even know the children’s name.
No medical records were kept, even though some of the girls are stated to have undergone serious medical procedures. Children are marked absent on few days in the attendance register, but there is no record of who took them or where they went.
The records available in the institution also show that two babies, one aged about 19 months and another aged about 9 months, had died. In respect of one of them, there are no records available. Another girl about 20 months old is stated to have been gone back to her parents. But no details with regard to her parents are available
Passports were obtained using dubious means and the Child Welfare Committee was completely in the dark about the foreign trips that the children were taken to.
Girls kept in isolation, no attempt at proper schooling or social reintegration
The ADJ’s report further adds –
“It was found that the children in the home had no interaction with any person outside the home. Even the school going children did not have touch with friends who were not part of the home. Most of the children were school drop outs or studying privately.
…Few children are being sent to the 5 Loaves, German Bakery since 2013, in the name of training. There is no specified course or duration prescribed. The administration calls it an on-job training. On being questioned if the children are being given any stipend, the reply was in negative. This is nothing but exploiting the labour of the girls under the custody of the administration.
..The children who have studied nursing are not being sent to such jobs, but are being taught Theology….It is also pertinent here to point out that even children who have scored 200/200 in some subjects are made to study Theology.
..the children have till date not interacted or mingled with any person, who is not part of the institution.
Some children have been pulled out of regular schooling since they interacted with other students in school, who were not part of the institution. These children were made to take up private studies.”
In short, the children were brought up in isolated conditions and forced to be dependent on the Pastor for their needs.
Brainwashing – Stockholm Syndrome
The ADJ adds in her report –
“..The older girls totally lack general knowledge and the girls confess that they have never handled money. When I asked one of the children what you will do if you want a pencil. She immediately told me that she would pray to Jesus and Jesus would in turn send the pencil through some person.
When I asked one of the girls what she would do if she was stranded in a public place without money and how she would reach her home. She simply stated that she would pray to Lord Jesus to send someone to take her and then she would wait for that person.
The children have been made to think that their Pastor Gideon Jacob is suffering for the sins committed by the children and inspite of the fact that he was their saviour, he is being troubled only because of the sins of the girls….Further he has told them that their parents were not at all interested in their welfare and that it was only he who is interested in their welfare and it is only he who is taking care of all of them.”
The Court’s findings records that “almost all children appear to suffer from something similar to Stockholm Syndrome, which is completely antithetic to the object and purpose of the Juvenile Justice Act”. The court judgement said “From the manner in which the institution in question is functioning, it is clear that the institution is not interested in the rehabilitation and social reintegration of the children”
This article narrates the heart-breaking tale of how these infant girls were illegally transferred to Moses Ministries through a nexus involving village nurses, a panchayat president and his daughter (a senior nurse at the government hospital) who preyed on societal prejudice towards the girl child.
Now, many mothers are yearning for a chance to be reunited with their children who were cruelly snatched away from them, often with connivance of their family elders who kept the mothers in the dark. Although DNA testing has confirmed 34 matches of girls with their parents, the young women are afraid to be separated from the group. A counsellor from the Chennai-based humanitarian non-profit Indian Council of Child Welfare told the court that all the girls had been “systematically subjected to indoctrination or a sort of brainwash to surrender their entire life to control by the so-called ‘father’.”
Dubious role of TN Government agencies like District Social Welfare Dept.
Certain officials of Government agencies like District Social Welfare (DSW) Department and Regional Passport Office have a dubious role to play in this whole episode. The Madras high court’s Madurai bench suo motu impleaded the regional passport officer (RPO), Trichy, and sought an explanation into the issuance of passports to some minor girls of the ‘orphanage’ without the names of the parents being mentioned and without the parents or authorized legal guardian signing the application form. The court had also ruled that The Commissioner of Social Welfare should probe the shocking conduct of two DSW Officers who issued letters to the RPO recommending issue of passports.
— fcra_analyst (@by2kaafi) November 1, 2017
In Nov 2016, Mahila Court Judge, Jacintha Martin was appointed by the Court to visit the children at the home – she reported that the adult girls (82 out of 89 are between 18 and 27 years of age) ‘wanted to stay under management of the home’. Not satisfied with this report submitted by Martin, the Court restrained itself from recommending action against her and directed Tiruchy district administration to liberate the 82 adult inmates from its (district administration) custody.
But the parents whose DNA had matched with a section of the inmates are still waiting to be united with their daughters. In Feb this year, they urged the Trichy district administration to form a committee as per the court order, to facilitate the reunion of the parents and children at the earliest. The parents are concerned that any delay on the part of the government would give room for pastor Gideon Jacob to influence the girls to remain at the home.
In June, the court expressed displeasure over the manner in which the district administration of Trichy district is taking care of the girls, who are still under the care of the district social welfare officer (DSWO) and directed her to appoint a person to look after the inmates properly.
An unanswered question
Out of 125 girl inmates who were moved from Usilampatti to Trichy, only 89 have been found. What happened to the rest?
Who was funding Pastor Gideon Jacob?
For this question, we turn to this India Happenings blog post from June, 2016 –
“Mose Ministries, Tiruchirappalli was founded and run by a Pastor Gideon Jacob. It is not FCRA-ed. It was predominantly funded via a Hamburg Christian “NGO” called Christliche Initiative fur Indien (CIFI).
Pastor Gideon Jacob appears to be running Mose Ministries, Tiruchirappalli via a Company (likely Sec. 25, as can be seen from Part-5 of its CIN which stands as NPL). The name of the company is: Good Shepherd Evangelical Mission Private Limited and its CIN=U93090TN1974NPL006617; it was earlier know as The Siloam Evangelical Mission Private Limited.
The Directors are Gideon Jacob and Ute Jacob and the address is given as: 20-C, C-Block, Main Street, Anna Nagar, Chennai (no surprises in finding it in Anna Nagar, which is the Headquarters of neo EJs in Chennai, closely competing with Kilpauk).”
Gideon Jacob had fundraising organizations in Austria, Switzerland (& may be Poland) too, and they all probably funneled money into his Section 25 company (the section used by non-profit companies; now Section 8 under new Companies Act 2013). Gideon Jacob also had a large complex called World Prayer Centre in Trichy – so he certainly had no shortage of funds.
Section 25 companies can’t take foreign donations without FCRA. But, they can get payments for services (reports etc.) provided to foreign organizations – this probably was the route used by Gideon Jacob to funnel foreign money to Bharat. The financial returns of Good Shepherd Evangelical Mission Private Limited would make for interesting reading. However, non-FCRA ‘payments’ received by companies are not easily available in public. Other #BreakingIndia / missionary organizations masquerading as human rights / social justice orgs like Amnesty-India, IJM (International Justice Mission), Justice & Care etc. also adopt the Sec 25 route and likely get foreign funding by saying that they conduct research for foreign entities, thus getting the foreign money without an FCRA license.
Another interesting observation is that Ute Jacob recently appeared in a MCA (Ministry of Corporate Affairs) defaulter list.
The India Happenings blog hits the nail on the head regarding the financial & ideological exploitation of the poor girl children, apart from the more obvious emotional and physical abuse –
“… many of the inmates were not technically orphans, but were probably being held in the “Children’s Home” to extract money from Evangelicals and Bleeding Heart Liberals abroad. Such “orphanages” also help in raising new troops of foot soldiers (so called native pastors) for purposes of “reaching” and “saving” millions of Indian souls in the coming decades.”
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