As the CBI investigates the alleged trafficking of 89 girl children who were confined to an orphanage of Mose Ministries in Tiruchi, efforts are on to locate the parents of the girls and reunite them with their families.
The investigation into the ministry was kicked off after an NGO called Change India filed a petition in 2015 claiming that the orphanage was illegally functioning, and that since 1994, 89 girls were trafficked and confined in the orphanage.
According to court documents, the orphanage was begun in 1994 in Madurai, and after four years of functioning, was shifted to Tiruchi in 1998.
Narayanan, Founder of Change India, told The News Minute, “Mose Ministries had procured all these children from Usalampatti and Madurai. The pastor Gideon Jacob was trying to use these children and make money. They take these children to Poland and Germany, make them sing and make money.”
Of the 89 girls in question, 56 have crossed the age of 18, while the rest are minors. All 89 are currently under the care of the Social Welfare Department while the investigation continues under the charge of the CBI. “The people from the church or the Mose Ministries are not allowed to meet the girls or to speak to the 89 children,” said a social welfare officer of the CBI.
Following a January 2016 order from the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court, DNA tests are currently being conducted on persons who have voluntarily come forward as parents of 25 of the 89 girls. While samples had been collected earlier from the girls, testing of the parents has been on since July.
The identification of parents is being carried out on the basis of documents that Narayanan says were obtained by Change India from a whistle-blower working within the Mose Ministries, which supplied the names of parents from whom the children were procured.
A social welfare officer from Tiruchy told The News Minute, “The DNA tests of the children have already been carried out. The parents’ DNA tests are being conducted now. The girls have not said anything bad about the Mose Ministries or the pastor.”
According to court documents, the District Social Welfare Officer had informed the court that these documents had been sought to be hidden by two girls in the home.
The court order of January 2016 stated that the District Social Welfare Officer had informed the court that the orphanage had procured the children through a nurse working in the Government Hospital at Usilampatti with the help of the former President of the village panchayat.
However, the Mose Ministries had claimed in the court that they had protected these children from female infanticide and had procured them through cradles kept outside their orphanage homes. They had also denied having any information about the parents of the 89 girls.
Besides the manner in which the children were procured, allegations have also been made that the girls were confined in the homes and brainwashed.
Narayanan told TNM, “These children were brought up in artificial environment. The children know only three things: Jesus Christ, the Bible and the pastor. For them, pastor is God, they do not even watched television, it is anti-Christ for them.” A Change India document also states that the girls were forbidden contact with persons outside the orphanage in their schools and in the neighbourhood.
All of the girls are school drop-outs, literate enough to read the bible and learn singing, added Narayanan. “What jobs will they do? What work will they do in future? They were sent to school for basic learning so that they can read Bible or sing songs,” said Narayanan.
According to the social welfare officer, while 13 girls wish to pursue school education, the rest wish to study in a bible college. However, the court is reportedly treating these wishes with scepticism, and has asked that the girls be given counselling. The court also ordered that the Mose Ministries deposit an amount of Rs 4 lakh, in addition to the Rs 6 lakh already deposited with the court, as funds for the maintenance of the girls by the Social Welfare department.
Narayanan says that Change India plans to take the issue further beyond the Mose Ministries case. “We are currently trying to unite these children with their families. We want to take this to the United Nations and put an end to the religious exploitation done in various countries,” said Narayanan.