Saturday, October 21, 2006

Christian hospital targeted in Chhattisgarh

The Chhattisgarh government is targeting a Catholic voluntary health service in Ambikapur diocese after some people charged it with illegal conversion activities, a Church official has said.

Since 1995, the Raigarh-Ambikapur Health Association has been functioning from Pathalgoan. The government of undivided Madhya Pradesh state had entrusted it with its Integrated Child Development Services program in one of the 19 Blocks in the district of Surguja.

"It has functioned wonderfully well. So much so in the years 1999-2000 this NGO had received state's Birsa Munda award. Satisfied with its works, the MP government had decided to entrust it with yet another Block namely, Odgi Block in Surguja, the same responsibility," a diocesan official said.

But "the picture is totally different" now because of motivated allegations of some fanatic groups that accuse the voluntary group of "conversion activities" in the villages where it works.

"Inquiries were made from Raipur and even from central government. But their report was in our favor. Accusations of conversions were proved baseless," the Church official said. However, the state government has taken some steps against the organization, the officials said.

Since April 2006 some 340 employees were denied of their salary. There are two Religious Sisters belonging to St. Joseph of Lyons Congregation working for of the program, appointed by the government. Seventeen supervisors work under them, who are in charge of 327 workers and co-workers spread out in villages.
The government has taken steps to terminate the two religious sisters and 17 supervisors saying that they are improperly appointed. However, the 327 village workers will not be removed from their job, diocesan officials said.

The diocese of Ambikapur was erected on December 14, 1977 by dividing Raigarh-Ambikapur diocese. The diocese is co-extensive with the present civil districts of Surguja and Korea in the northern part of the State of Chhattisgarh.

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