15.12.2015 | Julia Jacob
The National Human Rights Commission, Delhi
The State Human Rights Commission, Chennai
National Commission for Protection of Child Rights
Tamilnadu Federation of Women Lawyers
May we introduce ourselves at the very onset of this letter to you as women belonging to an NGO called MoseMinistries that is headed by Pastor Gideon Jacob from Tiruchy, Tamilnadu? He is the Chairman of the Good Shepherd Evangelical Mission Pvt. Ltd. and the Senior Pastor of the Good Shepherd World Prayer Centre, in Tiruchy. As you should know, female infanticide was rampant in parts of Tamilnadu in the 1990s, notably in towns like Usilampatti (Madurai District) and Dharmapuri (Salem District).
A documentary from the BBC highlighted this tragedy in the early 1990s, where two female children were shown alive as they were being killed with the poison of a plant that grows all over Tamilnadu and India. Infants were usually killed with unpolished paddy, or Yerukkampaal (a milky fluid from this plant) or by just drowning them in a bucket of water soon after birth. Some of these children were ever buried alive in places like Dharmapuri, we were told. Thousands were killed in the womb of the mother that was normally supposed to be the best place of protection for any child in this world, just because they were female! A simple ultrasound scan was often the death-sentence for these little ones, who were left at the indiscriminate mercy of adults in the family and medical profession!
Pastor Gideon Jacob and his team of co-workers started a home called MoseMinistries in Usilampatti in the year 1994 in order to save the lives of female babies who were being killed in their hundreds all over that area. When one watches the documentary of the BBC from those times, one gets a clear of picture of how female babies were killed in many parts of India with impunity in those days! Through the sacrificial efforts of Pastor Gideon Jacob and his team, 89 of us were saved through this home called MoseMinistries. We were mostly brought to this home soon after birth by our own parents, friends, relatives etc. under some false pretext and laid in one of the cradles that were there in front of that house. Almost all of us were brought to this home in the very early initial hours of our lives. At least one of our sisters was found outside on the paddy-field as a new-born child. At least two of us were strangulated or fed with spicy pickles, hoping that we will be killed, but we somehow survived and came to this home. One of our sisters had a heart-ailment that needed to be rectified through operation and another has gone away from this life, since she was infected with HIV even as she came into our huge family. All 89 of us are now in this home for almost 21 years now. The youngest of us is to soon reach the age of 17!
Everything was fine until September 2014, when about 22 authorities marched into our property (half an acre) and inspected us. The Social Welfare Committee had visited in earlier years too, but this home was found to be wonderful during all of those visits. Our home was praised to be the best in the whole of Tiruchy District by the authorities then. Pastor Gideon Jacob who is our dad has wonderful connections to Germany and some other European countries. He studied and worked there. His wife is a German national and his only son, who is an IT professional has his own business in that country too. On this day of September 2014, members of the Child Welfare Committee, Social Welfare Committee, Child Protection Officer and some police officials who are in-charge of dealing with child-trafficking were also there. Soon after this very rude and threatening inspection, in particular by the Child Welfare Committee, MoseMinistries got a whole of list of things that needed to be done for a final recognition under the JJ Act of 2000. It must told at this juncture that the process of application for this recognition was already underway at that time. This home was already recommended by the inspecting officer of the Social Welfare Committee for recognition and we had already had a temporary recognition that stated that this temporary recognition would be valid until the final one is consented. A whole list of “dos and don’ts” were sent to our Chairman soon thereafter and he in turn complied with all the demands of the Child Welfare Committee and the Social Welfare Committee from Tiruchy.
A thatched-roof was removed from the dining-area, another tiled sagging roof was bolstered with steel rails, work on extra toilets inside the compound began, CCTV cameras were installed all over the compound, the height of the compound wall was increased, steam-cooking equipment were procured, a water-purifier was installed and the whole compound was illuminated with new and powerful LED lamps. Three letters came from the Social Welfare Committee demanding changes and we did all the changes that were demanded, but none of the officials came to inspect the installation of these changes after September 2014 for one full year! Since they did not come even though they promised to come many times, our Chairman even wrote a registered letter, requesting the Social Welfare Committee to visit our home. Every time we visited them, a visit to our home was promised, but nothing really happened.
On the 3rd of September 2015, a team of about 30 people moved into our property, saying that we had to be “rescued” from there, since the home was not registered under the JJ Act of 2000. Authorities from the Social Welfare Committee, Child Welfare Committee (a lawyer and another man from this CWC behaved very badly with the co-workers of our home and openly challenged and threatened us!), doctors, psychologists, Child Protection Officer and the local police officials came on that day. For us a hugely intimidating encounter! From 10.00 a.m. in the morning to 9.30 p.m. in the evening we were cajoled, threatened, challenged etc., with various tactics, words and deeds. Even our administrators and wardens were threatened with imminent arrest, if we do not leave the house as demanded. However, none of us wanted to leave our home that has housed us for almost 18 years of our lives! MoseMinistries is not an orphanage, but our own home. The trauma of losing our parents was big indeed and now this trauma of evacuation and “rescuing”? We did not oblige to any of the cunning words of the authorities. So late at night they left our premises!
One the 5th of September 2015 some 40 policemen came into our compound again. In the beginning we did not know what was really happening, but we were later told that this police battalion is there for our own protection. Some RSS people wanted to carry us away through force from this home and so we need to be protected, we were told. After the initial heart-thumping on that day everything ended peacefully in the evening. Ever since, officers of the CB-CID from Chennai had visited us, with a long list of questions and also the local police interrogated each one of us intensively. We told everyone of them that we want to be left alone in peace and that going away from MoseMinistries, that has become our home now, is not an option for any of us at all!
Now in November 2015, we hear that one Mr. Narayanan has filed a public litigation at the High Court in Madurai with all kinds of wild allegations against us and our Dad Pastor Gideon Jacob that are utterly baseless, vicious and evil in nature. He took about 10 and 8 of us to Germany and Poland on a sight-seeing and educational tour in 2008 and 2010, with free mile-tickets that he and his friends were able to sponsor in Lufthansa, the German Airlines. Before we left India, we got the consent of the Social Welfare Authorities in order to get our passports from the Tiruchy Passport Office. Even after returning from Europe after a month, we made it a point to tell the Social Welfare Authorities that we are back at Tiruchy. The school in which we studied was informed about our movements and travel. Everything was done only within the parameter of law and nothing was done without the consent of the concerned authorities. We went on sight-seeing tours, visited cities, town, museums etc. In one town of Poland we were even asked to dance an “Indian Dance” at a cultural festival that was being celebrated in that town. This dance was not planned ahead of our tour, but it was just spontaneous. Has this anything to do with begging on the road as it is being suggested in this public litigation? Or is it the mental hallucination of people who have no idea about Europe?
Now after all these years, we hear some sinister allegations about our time in Europe! In this so-called public litigation at the Madurai High Court, we are being suspected of sexual abuse in Europe. Some of us were left behind in Germany for labour, we are told. Even in our own hostel here at Tiruchy, we are being suspected of sexual-abuse, since two married Pastors of our Church slept in a separate building for a few months inside the compound from 11.00 p.m. to 5.00 a.m. everyday for our own security. Fact is, security agents proved be extremely hazardous inside our sprawling compound of about half an acre. Since their behaviour during the night was not that affirming, we had these two Pastors sleeping there when all of us were in bed in a separate building already! However, these allegations of “sexual-abuse” and “sexual-activity” are nothing but rubbish born in the minds of men who can only see women as “sex-objects”! We think that there is a concerted effort of criminally-minded people who are trying to destroy our lives and future completely through such utterly baseless and fabricated lies and rumours.
Yes, we love our Dad Pastor Gideon Jacob and have very often asked him to take us for a car or scooter ride. Each one of us was taken for a short scooter ride on our birthdays and some of us accompanied him for shopping at times within our living area for purchases. Can all this be wrong? Or is it wrong, just because our physical parents abandoned us? Wild and stupid allegations were spread in the so-called sensationalising media! “35 children are missing! Two have been killed! Four have been sold to Oman!” Camera men and so-called newsmen were just hounding us inside and outside our compound for some news that couldn’t be true at all! No one was missing, no was killed and no one was sold! All 89 of us still there, well and alive! The Child Welfare Committee demanded that all children above the age of 18 should be housed in a different compound and this was done by our Dad. So, was it wrong? Don’t we have the right to live in dignity, even if our parents have abandoned us? Can we not have fun with our parent and co-workers who are everything to us in this world till today? Where were these authorities who are now supposedly seeking our welfare and protection in all of these past 20 years?
We were treated badly in schools and at times they called us the “garbage children”. We received a lot of pity at our early age, but not dignity! We got dignity and honour through our parents (Pastor Gideon Jacob and his wife) and the co-workers of this home. Authorities did not take care of us in the last 20 years, but now they want to “rescue” us and shift us to government homes, just because they did not care about the registration till now? The trauma of losing our parents was painful enough, but why this trauma of losing everything we have now again after nearly 21 years? We have the right to live in this world, just like any other kid too. For us, Pastor Gideon Jacob and his wife are our real parents. We carry their family name JACOB on our passports, certificates and Aadhaar-Cards. We just want to live in peace and get along in life with everything that God has in store for us!
Can we, the undersigned kindly request you to intervene on our behalf, so that we can lead the rest of our lives in peace and harmony? We do not want to be disturbed by any of these people who just have sinister motives in their actions. Almost all of the charges are baseless and is based entirely on suspicion, spread through some vicious people with ulterior motives. None of us approached any of the authorities for help. None of us are interested in seeing our physical parents after these two decades and this we have very clearly underlined in all of the interviews that have been conducted. All 89 of us have lived as children of the same family and we want to continue in this structure even after our own marriages that may part us one day.
We kindly request you to look into our matter immediately and to do everything possible, so that our rights are safeguarded in every way. We do not want to go through the trauma of separation once again in our lives. We do not want to be degraded in this society, just because our parents did not want us or just because we are women. The present actions of the above-mentioned authorities are threating to damage our lives and future completely. How can we live in this Indian society with dignity if such scandalous, vicious and blatant lies are spread against us and our lives at this early age? Will anyone marry us in future if we are suspected of abhorrent sexual-abuse? Is there anyone here in this nation to protect our self-respect and dignity as women?
Thanking you in anticipation.