After fifteen months in jail, Sister Concelia Baxla, a Mother Teresa Sister from Jharkhand, India, has been released on bail. She used to work in one of the order’s many orphanages. Last year, she was arrested on charges of human trafficking because one of the co-workers allegedly took money for facilitating an adoption. Those charges were subsequently dropped but Sr. Concelia remained imprisoned. While all others involved in the case were granted bail swiftly, Sr. Concelia’s appeal was rejected multiple times.
“Nobody should be persecuted because of their faith. We are thankful that Sister Concelia has been granted bail after more than a year in prison pending trial. While others were released sooner, it seems that Sr. Concelia was punished for symbolic reasons due to her faith and her position as a member of the Missionaries of Charity,” said Tehmina Arora, Director of ADF India.
Systematic violence against Christians in India
Christians regularly become victims of systematic mob attacks in India with more than 200 incidents recorded so far this year. The attacks often take a similar shape and rarely receive any police attention. A mob will arrive at a prayer meeting or Christian gathering, shout abuse and harassment, and beat up those in attendance including women and children. Then, the pastors or priests are usually arrested by the police under false allegations of forced conversions.
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Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas who visited Sr. Concelia in prison sees the prolonged denial of her right to be released on bail despite her age and poor health as an attempt to harm the Church in India. He wrote in a blog that “some political power somewhere has decided that she be the sacrificial goat to get at the Church.”
“The misuse of the police force, the manipulations of political authorities, the apathy of our justice system in the story of this poor, naive and innocent woman who has devoted all her life to the selfless service of the poor and marginalized is a story of many poor prisoners of our country. Many like her are languishing in jail as under trials waiting for the slow churning of the wheels of justice which often appear to be spun by money power, political clout, massive media propaganda and even blatant manipulation of evidence,” wrote Mascarenhas.