India: 30 Children Rescued from Alleged Torture, Starvation and Forced Conversion at Christian Shelter
The owner of a shelter for underprivileged children in Greater Noida, India has been arrested and accused of the torture and forced Christianization of minors in his care.
“On Sunday, it was confirmed that the group was running the shelter homes illegally and was keeping the underprivileged children away from their parents in the name of better education,” Bisrakh police station commander Ashwani Kumar told reporters. “The rescued children had accused forcible conversion and lack of basic amenities and cleanliness at the shelter homes.”
The Hindustan Times previously reported that some 30 children, all from poor families, were rescued by in a December 29 police raid on two Emmanuel Seva Group homes in Greater Noida and Meerut. One of the rescued children, a 9-year-old boy who lived in the shelter for three years, called his time there akin to a “jail term.”
“I was allowed to meet my parents once a month for only 15 minutes. The only thing I was taught was the Bible. They forced me to memorize its passages,” the boy told the Times, adding that children were forced to eat meat and cockroach-infested food, and were “paraded” in front of potential donors.
“They gave us good clothes whenever visitors came. They made us stand in line and recite Bible passages. Faltering meant a beating with sticks and belts later,” the boy said. “Once the guests left, the shelter in-charge snatched away our clothes, sweets and gifts and we were back in rags again.”
Shelter residents described brutal beatings, torture techniques including hanging from ceiling fans, and starvation employed as punishment all occurring in the home.
“We were not given food for three days at a stretch if we forgot a Bible passage,” the boy alleged. His 11-year-old sister, who also lived at the shelter, described squalid living conditions, including being forced to sleep on a filthy floor littered with rodent droppings.
“Most of them are malnourished and sick. They need proper medication and care,” the head of one local NGO said of the rescued children. “We are in talks with their family members. They will be sent back to their homes soon.”
The mother of the brother and sister rescued from the shelter said her ordeal did not end with the return of her children. She told the Times that shelter employees came to her home and threatened to take her children back.
“They pelted stones at our house and beat us up with batons. They fled when the neighbors gathered,” she said.