A girl studying in Class-8 is alleged to have been raped near Guntur, Andhra Pradesh. The incident was covered in the following mainstream media channels on 19 December, 2014:
(c)ABN Telugu TV-1
(d) ABN Telugu TV-2
(e) The Hindu
According to these news sources, the student was a resident of St. Marks Children’s Home, Palaparru Village, Pedanandipadu Mandal near Guntur, Andhra Pradesh.Google Maps shows the distance from Guntur to Palaparru to be 40 km. It is also mentioned that the perpetrator of this crime was the Warden of the Home whose name is mentioned as Mr. K. Jeyraj (alias KattaJeyraj) who is said to be absconding. The NDTV link further mentions that Mr. Jeyraj was serving also as a part-time Pastor.
The news is certainly shocking and saddening—one cannot imagine the trauma the innocent child has undergone at the hands of someone who was in the position of a guardian.
When the IndiaFacts team dug a little deeper into the ghastly incident, it discovered that publicly available documents on the internet suggest a likely foreign link to this Children’s Home.
It begins with the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS), a fellowship of Lutheran Christians belonging to 1300 congregations in the US and Canada. It is headquartered in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. A blog post of WELS dated 19 June, 2013, which can be accessed here (whois domain search of which points to WELS, Wisconsin as the domain owner), mentions WELS as running 10 orphanages in India catering to the physical and spiritual needs of 300 children. (See the whois screenshot below)
In the third paragraph, the blog mentions the following:
“A new home, St. Mark’s Children’s home, opened in a village 25 miles from Guntur at the same time. The gospel worker will be a seminary student this year. He and his wife had a son. He died several years ago and they have no children of their own and the couple was eager to take on the work of caring for children in a home. They will have 20 children this year. We welcome Elder Jayaraju and his wife to our family. The burden of caring for the children will fall to Elder Jaya Raju’s wife since he will attend seminary classes for two weeks out of every month.”
The following is the screenshot of this blog update.
According to FCRA records, WELS has remitted 1.5 Crore Rupees per annum to “Christian Evangelical Lutheran Ministries (CELM)”, Vidhyanagar, Guntur. The FC6 return for the year 2011-12 can be found here. Since 2006, CELM has received remittances every year from WELS, demonstrating that CELM’s activities are sustained by WELS, Wisconsin alone and by no other donor. Additional remarks on FCRA returns are posted under footnotes 6 and 7.
It is clear that public domain information accessed by IndiaFacts and presented in this report suggests that a thorough examination of the aspect of foreign funding to such evangelical organizations is urgently necessary if we want to protect such young children from sexual abuse from pastors. The larger aspect is also the fact that these foreign-funded organizations pose a threat to national security. For more information, see IndiaFacts’ Persecution and Proselytisation reports.
Although WELS mentions that it runs ten orphanages in India (presumably around Guntur), the NDTV report as well as the Headlines Today report mention only about the parents of the girl without going into the root cause of the problem.
Several knowledgeable online commentators have expressed much concern on the mushrooming of so-called orphanages in the country, particularly on our South Eastern Coast. While we wish that justice is done to the innocent child who is seriously affected by this dastardly crime, it should also serve as a wake-up call for the general society to question the need for so many “orphanages” of this nature.
Past experience of the IndiaFacts research team in bringing out such exposes suggests that once our exposes come to light, these Evangelical organizations typically try to delete all traces of their activity from the Internet.
- A description of the history of WELS in India is available here.
- A summary of activities of WELS in India organized through its subsidiary, Christian Evangelical Lutheran Ministries (CELM), Guntur can be accessed here.
- A report of the visit of the President of WELS, Rev. Mark Schroeder to Guntur, India in 2010 is availablehere.
- Among WELS/CELM’s activities is a four-year theology programme conducted in its seminary in Guntur whose graduation ceremony photographs can be accessed here.
- A strange photo album describing an event calledIce Cream Evangelism is also seen in WELS’ photo stream here. The stream is captioned “CELM (WELS’ sister church) in India. Bible woman uses storytelling to children to build bridges to the Gospel.”
- CELM has not filed its FC6 return for the year 2012-2013 yet. However, WELS has remitted Rs. 1.72 Crores to an Organization calledReachout, Hyderabad in 2012-2013 whose FC6 return can be accessed here. CELM has not filed its FC6 return for 2012-2013 yet.
- CELM’s FC6 return for the year 2007-2008 which can be accessed here mentions that it received Rs. 1.43 Crore for the purpose of digging bore wells.