Light of truth

Officials probing more than 80 Indian Christian institutions in eastern Indian Jharkhand State have recommended a federal investigation on fund diversions, which church leaders say is an attempt to project Christians as law breakers.

The state’s Criminal Investigation Department (CID) has recommended a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), the premier agency under the federal government, the local Hindi language daily Prabhat Kabar (Morning News) reported on Oct. 17.

Since July, the state has been investigating 88 Christian organizations, including those managed by various Catholic dioceses and religious congregations such as Jesuits, Salesians and several groups of nuns. They are accused of diverting overseas donations to help win converts.

Senior CID official Ajay Kumar Singh, in a report submitted to the chief of state police, claimed irregularities in the financial transactions of these institutions and recommended an in-depth federal probe, the newspaper reported.

The CID has completed investigating 10 of the Christian organizations allegedly involved and found there were “suspicious cash transactions” involving of millions or rupees. It also found that funds were being used illegally for religious promotional activities as well as in the providing of inaccurate information to the government, the news report stated.

An Indian law, the Foreign Contributions (Regulations) Act stipulates that overseas donations must be received through a government regulated system and used strictly for defined purposes.

Audit reports must be submitted to the government annually, the law stipulates.

However, Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas, secretary general of the Indian bishops’ conference, maintained that church organizations have been strictly following the law and the recommended further probe was a clear case of harassment.

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