Ruckus over 'forcible conversion' by NGO

Ruckus over 'forcible conversion' by NGO

Some women living at a shelter home run by an NGO in south-west Delhi’s Dwarka on Friday created a ruckus at a local police station alleging that two caretakers at the house were “forcibly converting” them to Christianity.

Joined by dozens of locals, they raised slogans at the Dwarka South police station because police had not registered an FIR till late on Friday. BJP MLAs from Palam Dharam Dev Solanki and Rajesh Gehlot from Matiala were among several local BJP leaders who descended on the police station following the ruckus.

Police took cognisance of the allegations and said they would file a case soon. “We have not registered a case yet. We are getting the statements of the five women in detail and will register an FIR after that,” said Dinesh Kumar Gupta, Additional Deputy Commissioner of Police.

The woman have named the “president” of the shelter home Salma Francis and warden Elizabeth Thomas to be involved in the conversion. When contacted by Deccan Herald, Thomas denied the allegations.

The Umeed Shelter Home in Sector-7 of Dwarka houses victims of rape and domestic violence. The home is run by Vision for Oasis Waves Society, an NGO.

The women have alleged they were forced to wear the cross, break their Navratra fast and eat meat on Holi and even beef on some other days. “A Muslim woman among us identified the wrong meat,” claimed one complainant.

“When we arrived at the shelter home, they were sweet and asked us to adopt Christianity. When we did not comply with their directions, they began torturing us mentally by abusing our religions and not allowing us to perform our prayers. They also threatened to implicate us in false cases,” alleged a 25-year-old rape victim brought to the shelter home in December last year. A Muslim woman is among the complainants.

Thomas claimed the women were getting back at them for being directed to do their “daily chores and stay disciplined”.

She said the women were adults and could not be “forced” to eat meat. “These women are non-vegetarians. We never forced them. Police brought them here and it was easy for them to approach police even from the shelter home,” she said.

She acknowledged that two women were told to break their fast. “One woman is affected with bone tuberculosis and the other falls sick often. Keeping their health in mind, we told them to discontinue their fasts,” she said.

The warden accepted that three women were made to wear the cross because “they were troubled by spirits”. “We made them wear the cross to ward off the evil spirits. Their behaviour would often change and they would start laughing, sticking their teeth out,” she claimed. She said the five women were close friends and alleged they were in constant touch with outsiders.

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