KOLKATA, India — Two women affiliated with the Missionaries of Charity, one a religious sister and the other an employee, have been arrested in India under suspicion of selling a baby from a shelter for unwed mothers.
The arrests happened Tuesday and Wednesday in the Indian state of Jharkhand. The women are also under suspicion of selling three other infants and are believed to have an additional accomplice, a shelter employee who is now being investigated.
No charges have yet been filed.
Police say that a couple reportedly paid 120,000 rupees ($1,760 U.S.) to Anima Indwar, who worked at a shelter run by the Missionaries of Charity. The couple complained that Indwar took their money in exchange for a child and that she later took the child back from them without returning money.
At the time of the arrest, there were a dozen pregnant women living at the shelter, who have now been transferred to a government-run home.
A representative for the Missionaries of Charity said that the order stopped dealing with child adoption in India back in 2015. The order is conducting its own investigation as to what happened in this particular case.
“There was no question of selling any child, as the Missionaries of Charity had stopped giving children for adoption three years ago,” said Samita Kumar, spokeswoman for the order. She explained that the sisters did not accept money for adoptions when they previously administered them.
The baby in question was born May 1 to a shelter resident and was apparently given to the couple two weeks later. On July 1, Indwar reportedly asked the couple to return to the shelter with the baby for some “formalities.” She then took the child from his adoptive parents and did not give him back.
The child is now in the custody of the state.
The Missionaries of Charity were founded in 1950 in Kolkata, India, by Albanian Anjezë Gonxhe Bojaxhiu, later Mother Teresa. She was canonized by the Church in 2017 as St. Teresa of Calcutta. There are about 3,000 Missionaries of Charity sisters worldwide.
In addition to the vows of chastity, poverty and obedience, members of the Missionaries of Charity take a fourth vow pledging “wholehearted free service to the poorest of the poor.” Mother Teresa was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 for her service to the poor of Kolkata.