The Timeline of a Martyr
In 1994 MoseMinistries (a project of Good Shepherd Evangelical Mission Pvt. Ltd.- GSEM – 9, Renganagar, Subramaniyapuram,Trichy 6200-20) began in Usilampatti – The government did not require at this time any official registration of children’s homes. However, from the start, the home was known and recognized by the authorities. In the years following, up until 1999, children were taken into the home. During the time of the development of the home, none any of the girls relatives ever come to visit, or to ask to take them back again or even inquire about their well-being, although the location of MoseMinistries was also public knowledge.
In 1998, MoseMinistries moved to Trichy, as the children had better schooling opportunities, health care facilities and more security due to the close proximity to the church (Good Shepherd World Prayer Centre, GSWPC).
In 2006 the legislation of Tamil Nadu (TN) and the government made the official registration of all children’s homes according to the J.J.Act compulsory.
On 30.01.2008 MoseMinistries obtained a temporary certificate from the authorities for the recognition of the home that would be valid until the issuing of the final registration. In 2010, a renewed application for the final registration never received a reply and remained “untouched” by the authorities. Again new applications were submitted in 2011 and 2013 as well. Up to that time the application papers of 144 children’s homes in Tamil Nadu had been put on hold for months, even years. In the following years, up until 2013 MoseMinistries was frequently called on and inspected by the authorities. Whereupon every time, it was explicitly reported that Moses Ministries was one of the best run homes in TN.
In May 2008, as well as in May 2010 the “INSPIRATION-Tour” took place in Germany with a team from India. The focal points of this trip were cultural exchange, the intercultural program, visits to partnering churches and visiting historic places in Germany including places that are significant for the history of the church. Part of the team included ten (in 2008) and eight (in 2010) girls from MoseMinistries. They had specially arranged meetings with children from Germany. For this reason, in both cases, at both times, permission was received from the social welfare department and from the school board. On return the social welfare department verified that all the girls had returned and monitored their well-being throughout their trip. During the process of issuing passports for the girls who are minors, Gideon Jacob (pastor and leader of GSWPC, Trichy) was officially recognized as guardian of the MosesMinistries girls by the Social Welfare Department and received a verbal recommendation about the home for the registration. The passports were legally gained and issued by the government.
At a later stage, this tour to Germany with the girls was used to provide allegations of abuse and human trafficking against Gideon Jacob. The girls were supposedly abused and forced to beg in Germany.
In 2010, due to the construction of a new highway, right in front of the doorway of the church, land was expropriated and the wall in front of the church was torn down. -> The promised retribution from the Indian government was never paid out.
In December 2013, with permission from the authorities, the church (GSWPC) began to rebuild the wall and to construct a bridge over the open sewerage which runs directly in front of the church. At this time, a self-proclaimed journalist named Manikandan mobilized a mob which threatened the church and attempted to hinder the progress of the construction work. He sees himself as Hindu Swami and claims his motives are for religious reasons.
In March 2014 the construction of the wall and the bridge were completed. At the same time, the “journalist” Manikanden made an appearance again, slandering Gideon Jacob’s name, distributing seditious flyers and placarded the entire area with posters. A court order was enacted against Gideon Jacob for the “destruction of public property” (which still stands today!). This court order was based on the assumption that he had not received official permission for the construction work. The church received support at this time from influential Brahmins.
In May 2014 elections were held in India. The Hindu nationalist Party BJP came into power.
During this time, the “journalist” Manikanden, campaigned again to slander the church (GSWPC) and Gideon Jacob and tried to oppress him, threatening him to take him hostage. He demanded 40 000 Euro for him to remain silent and made a number of allegations: In connection with the church, he accused them of not having permission for the construction work and of unlawful appropriation of the land; regarding MoseMinistries, he accused Gideon Jacob of human trafficking, abuse and prostitution and claims that the children’s home runs illegally without registration. Once again flyers were distributed spreading these lies throughout the city. This campaign however has not affected the church. On the contrary, residents in the area have not allowed themselves to be influenced and the church continues to grow – a development that continued in the months and years following!
In summer 2014, 27 official representatives arrived unexpectedly at the MoseMinistries- grounds from different authorities (Social Welfare department, youth office, Police investigation commission against human trafficking, Child Protection Authority) demanding paperwork about the girls. Their main concern was particulars of the girls’ biological parents and that the girls were growing up with Christian beliefs although they all came from Hindu areas. The authorities filed for changes to be made in the home, which were at a very high expense (amongst other changes, building new rooms and sanitary facilities to be able to house the minors and over 18 year olds in separate dormitories; a new kitchen and dining hall; installation of security cameras)
In the months following, until summer 2015, the church and Gideon Jacob were put under pressure with new demands and deadlines. When deadlines were not met within the given time frame, the authorities threatened to close the home and to send the girls to a state run children’s home. The church began the reconstruction of the building at MoseMinistries and was able to receive an extension of one month to their deadline. A lawyer, who works at the social welfare department, supported the church in taking the case to court in order to fight for the required registration papers. When the authorities inspected the home, the girls were often interrogated for abuse and other illegal conspiracies. They purposefully tried, but to no avail, to manipulate the girls by telling them that they were stolen from hospitals, that their parents were looking for them in vain and that the pastor and coworkers were bad and immoral people. The authorities were even bold enough to accuse Gideon Jacob of murder and to spread lies that he was to have sold girls overseas. Further, the “journalist” Manikandan tried to oppress Gideon Jacob and the church with threats of murder and the spreading of false propaganda.
In the meantime Gideon Jacob now has one warrant of arrest.
On 03.09.2015 the social welfare, with the support of the police, took control of the home and attempted to convince the girls to leave the home and to live in state homes. The operation lasted 12 hours. The girls steadfastly refused to leave their home.
In November 2015 A. Paadam Narayanan (a social activist and director of an NGO in Chennai/TN named Changeindia) raised a complaint at the High Court Madurai against the authorities in government because of their neglect to act against MoseMinistries and their director Gideon Jacob, despite their missing registration and compelling suspicion of human trafficking, child abuse and forced living conditions.
His case was based on the allegations of the inspection report of two young students (interns), who inspected MoseMinstries for two days in May 2015. It must be stated that the charges were confirmed by many rumors, that were tactfully circulated to the disrepute of Gideon Jacob and the church. The accusation included an appeal for an inspection by the Secret police (CBI). Their goal is to see that the home will be closed, the punishment of the leaders of the home of their offenses and to reunite the girls with their biological families.
On 28./29.11.2015 a District Judge inspected MoseMinistries with a court order. Her closing report stated that the home was firstly not adequately run and secondly, that the girls were being brainwashed with Christian religion, as well as with their view of where they come from and who Gideon Jacob is to them, whom they would believe to be their savior.
On 07.12.2015 the High Court Madurai made an official court order for the home to be immediately sanctioned by a committee of authorities to take over the running of the home; contact with Gideon Jacob and all care takers up until then, as well as contact with the church, was prohibited; intervention of psychologists to heal the girls from their forced notions (Stockholm Syndrome); the immediate payment of a sum of approx. 10 000 Euro from the church to the officials for the upkeep of the children’s home; Inquiries into Usilampatti, in order to reunite the girls with their biological families – or alternatively the girls must be taken to state run institutions.
On 08.12.2015 MoseMinistries was taken over by the authorities. The girls, who in the meantime had been placed in two separate homes (at this time, about 30 girls were no longer minors) were put under house arrest and were being monitored by police and monitored by official care takers. Any form of contact to Gideon Jacob, to the church, as well as all care takers up until that point and anyone outside the home was prohibited. Only the girls who had not yet completed school were allowed to continue their schooling.
All the others had to cancel their studying/internships. Even though the church paid an amount of 40 000 euros to the authorities over the next 12 months for the expenses of the MoseMinistries girls, their physical, intellectual and emotional needs were poorly taken care of. The food is bad and prepared in an unhygienic way. The girls have to wait, often for weeks, before they can see a doctor, even in serious cases and additionally, they are humiliated, manipulated and emotionally scarred by the caretakers and inspectors and through further police investigations. Added to that, the conscious isolation, disablement, loss of perspective and lack of physical exercise makes the living conditions of the 89 young ladies an incredibly unbearable martyrdom. -> that continues until today.
On 22.12.2015 all the girls broke out of the home and joined together for a silent protest in front of the church. They wanted at least to attain the permission to take part in the church service on Christmas and New Year. The plea was taken up in court. The evening of the protest was the second last meeting between Gideon and the MoseMinistries girls. At his word, they left to go back peacefully to their home.
The MoseMinistries girls sent a petition to the court and requested that four changes be made with regards to their difficult circumstances: 1) The employment of teachers, who would go the grounds, to support the school children and to help the other girls with further studies (languages, basics in PC, typewriting) 2) The opportunity for the two separated groups of younger and older girls to be reunited. 3) Church services to be held on Sundays including a visit of a pastor from their church. 4) Permission for Esther (a young woman from MoseMinistries, at that time 25 years old) to be married to Clady, a coworker from the church.
On 20.01.2016 the High Court Madurai denied all four petitions. The accusations against Gideon became increasingly worse: He supposedly sold four girls to Oman. Included in the accusation was the order for DNA tests to be taken of all the girls, to assist with the reintegration of the girls with their biological families. The court order demanded another payment of approx. 6000 Euros to the authorities for the upkeep of MoseMinistries. At the same time, the court postponed the case for a further three months.
In March two petitions went before the highest court in India, the Supreme Court in Delhi: All the girls petitioned against their prohibition of freedom and Esther sent a complaint with regards to the prevention of her marriage by the officials. On 03.03.2016 both these petitions were denied by the SC, because the case was not yet completed in the lower high court.
On 13.04.2016 a further sentence was released by the High Court in Madurai for the institution of a 3 month secret police investigation with the support of a team from NIMHANS (National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Science / Bangalore). -> This official independent psychological investigation of the young girls by competent doctors and psychologists for Stockholm Syndrome and brainwashing has till today still not taken place!
Parents or other family members of the girls invariably show up at MoseMinistries. The fact that none of these family members have shown any interest in the welfare of the girls for the last 20 years, shows that this can only be traced back to the influence of the officials. Mothers, who testified in front of the press that Gideon Jacob stole their new born babies, admitted that they had been put under pressure by the social welfare department or were given money to say such things. Some family members made it clear that they still do not want the girls back in their family. Others are obviously only looking for help with work, that the girls can contribute to the provision of the family. Many of the girls are once again going through an identity crisis. They have to come to terms with the extreme poverty of their families and the problems that they face there. At the same time, they experience the recurring rejection by their family or are waiting in vain for their parents to contact them.
This is an incredibly challenging and difficult phase for the girls to overcome without encouragement and support.
In July 2016 a process began, in which approx. one third of the girls and their supposedly family members had DNA samples taken. Till today there is no clear result from these tests and no concrete facts taken from these investigations. A few things, (according to the press) seem to have been “messed up”.
On 30.11.016 a miracle occurred. The judges kept changing during the course of the proceeding. The judge in charge at that time made a final call on the case which said the following:
- All the girls who are of age must be set free immediately and may decide themselves what they would like to do in the future.
- The seven girls who are still minors must be taken into a registered home (In the end, it was only two girls – Amelie and Navina). -> Even though Navina came of age on 13.08.2017 and was the last of our girls who were minors, neither of them have been allowed to return home!)
- A new application was made to have MoseMinistries registered as a home, but also as a women’s hostel and had to be processed within 4 weeks by the Social welfare department.
- The secret police must complete their investigations within 9 months and report to a competent court.
In his verdict, the judge made an accusation against the authorities. There are a number of homes waiting for registration. State run homes are being registered in spite of terrible conditions.
->The verdict never came into effect!
In spite of the delay of the implementation of the verdict, an opportunity arose for Esther and Clady to be married. On 30.01.2017 Esther and Clady were married with the whole church attending the ceremony, as well as the lawyers, the authorities including the District Collector, DSWO and the police. All the MoseMinistries girls took part in the greatly celebrated ceremony!
On 28.04.2017 the case that had not yet been implemented was brought before the High Court in Madurai to be reviewed again. Once the court had reviewed the protocol of the new survey with regards to the girl’s plans and desires for their future, the judge once again ordered that the girls be released within 14 days. Further, it was decided that all dealings with the secret police would be directed under the supervision of a woman officer. The current male officer was discharged.
On the same day, A. Paadam Narayanan from Changeindia made an appeal at the Supreme Court in Delhi against the verdict. His appeal was dismissed with the words: “This verdict from the High Court is a wonderful verdict!”
The survey with the girls took place on 10.05.2017 at the court in Trichy. After some delay, the report was finally presented. More negotiations followed... Until today nothing has materialized from these negotiations, neither has a report been sent nor any final verdict made! -> The situation of the young girls has not changed!
Over and again, throughout the following months, the secret police continued to make investigations, inspections, searches and interrogations. This not only affects the MoseMinistries girls, but also the church congregation and coworkers of the church. With the investigations, the main accusations are focused on abuse and human trafficking. After over two years, there were still no real results from these investigations, the secret police inquired in other areas. Another case was being made against Gideon Jacob. He was accused of white-collar crime with regards to the money which he as NRI (Non-resident Indian) brought to India from Germany over the past years. To date, there are three cases against Gideon Jacob (MoseMinistries, white collar crime and the destruction of public property in the city of Trichy)
On 13.08.2017 Navina turns 18. Thus all girls have attained majority. Nevertheless Navina and Amelie were not released from the home, where they should stay till majority age. In five letters to the authorities the Home requests permission to discharge the girls. The letters were ignored.
All these processes took place in Gideon Jacob’s absence, as his wife Ute had been sick for the last one and a half years and it was necessary for him to be present in Germany. Since he was not able to be present, it became more and more evident that the procedures were stagnating.
In October 2017 Gideon Jacob decided to return to India in order to be present at the hearings. He is aware that this is the only chance to end these processes and also, for the young ladies from MoseMinistries to finally have their freedom again as well as for the church (GSEM) to continue existing. On the 22.10.2017 Gideon Jacob travelled to India, after he had informed the authorities about his date of arrival. On the 27.10.2017 he was arrested and has since been under investigation in maximum security prison in Trichy. The interrogations still continue. The girls, who have now been under house arrest for almost two years, as well as the coworkers from the church, are interrogated over and over again. The situation is critical and uncertain. A first request for release on bail has been rejected.
The young women of MoseMinistries again submit an appeal to the High Court Madurai, demanding the implementation of the verdict dated 30.11.2016. On 11.12.2017 the HC Madurai gave a sentence saying, that the young women have to be brought into two institutions of the government for one month for a so called ‘counselling’, to decide, whether they can be integrated into normal social life. The young women appeal against the sentence at the Supreme Court.
On 05.01.2018 the second request for release on bail was turned down.
On 08.01.2018 the authorities come to take the young women into other homes. They refuse with one accord to leave the ground and refer to their appeal of the sentence at the Supreme Court.
On 25.01.2018 the maximum time of 90 days of custody ends. Gideon Jacob was released on bail, under harsh restrictions. The end of the investigations of the CBI is terminated on 10.02.2018. Till then he is not allowed to be in Trichy and has to appear before the CBI in Chennai twice a day in person.
On 25.01.2018 the first negotiation takes place at the Supreme Court. The case “MoseMinistries” is taken very seriously. The judge in charge cannot understand, that the authorities have kept 88 young women, all of age, under house arrest for two years, without any education or studies. He demands all parties concerned to appear at the next trial before the court in Delhi.
On 16.02.2018 the Supreme Court in Delhi confirms that the 89 young women of MM can take care of themselves and are therefore to be finally released from the custody of the District Social Welfare Department. The verdict gives all girls the freedom to shape their own lives. Within the next 6 weeks, a former judge of the Madras High Court will question all the girls individually and submit a report to the court, whereupon the ruling will be implemented.
07-08.03.2018 the interviews with all girls take place in which they may express how they see their future. Six girls express the desire, to return to their biological families. All others want to stay with MM. After the interviews the judge is very positive about the girls. The submission of the report and the negotiations taking place in the course of it are scheduled at the Supreme Court for 02.04.2018.
On 07.03.2018 Gideon Jacob is summoned for questioning by the financial enforcement authority.
Since his release Gideon Jacob is under strict and restrictive observations and conditions. A court hearing regarding relief from these restrictions is constantly postponed for weeks. The CBI files a notion in court and demand re-imprisonment on the grounds, that Gideon Jacob had manipulated witnesses after his release and had not complied with all conditions. Both charges can be refuted. A hearing leading to a final decision is scheduled for 20.03.2018.
Due to the absence of evidence there is still no closing report from the CBI regarding their investigations and no bill of indictment. To support the accusation regarding abuse the investigating authorities try to enforce a voice test from one of the young women of MM. Statements made by her, which shall prove the abuse, were recorded in 2012 without her knowledge. The couple, who recorded it secretly, had lured Julia under false pretenses to use her statements later for planned intrigues against Pastor Gideon Jacob. Since the records were taken without her knowledge and she was already of age, Julia filed an objection before the Supreme Court against the voice test. The objection was not granted (16.03.2018). But the judgement says it remains questionable whether this piece of evidence has the force of law.
The judgment in the court case regarding the bridge construction in front of the church building and the negotiation involved are postponed week after week.
On 24.05.2018 all the restrictions to which Gideon Jacob had been subject since his release from prison are lifted, although the CBI is fighting in court by all means and with further accusations for a continuation of the strict restrictions. Gideon Jacob can move freely anywhere.
The trial in the Supreme Court, which is ultimately to determine the release of the MoseMinistries girls by the judge, is postponed several times. The current date is 02.07.2018.
While the girls wait for the trial the two youngest of them, Amelie and Navina, are still separated from the other girls in a boarding school, where they should stay only until they reach the age of majority.
On 11.05.2018 Amelie is brought to her biological parents by the social authorities – it is said for three days, to get to know the parents –all without judicial permission and without informing the boarding school of her whereabouts. Amelie does not return to the boarding school. We hear, that Amelie was taken by her parents to Orissa (another Indian state), where they have been working for some time. It is assumed that the parents will try to marry the girl quickly, to close the chapter. They had once given Amelie away due to poverty, the situation hasn’t changed much.
On 18.06.2018 a petition from the secret police at the Madurai High Court is granted, whereupon for Gideon Jacob the previous conditions come into force again. Again he has to leave Trichy and return to Chennai, to report there to the authorities once a day. On 11.07.2018 the case is being tried again at the High Court. It is questioned whether a repetition of the restrictions is even legal. But since then the verdict has been long time coming.
The final hearing at the Supreme Court, originally scheduled for early July, which was to bring about the liberation of the young women of MoseMinistries, finally takes place on 25.07.2018. The court orders, that each one of the young women should make another affidavit. The final negotiation is scheduled for 29.08.2018.
On 25.07.2018 another incident happens. After a long struggle Navina, the youngest of the MoseMinistries girls is set free by the Madurai High Court and allowed to return to MoseMinistries, after Julia had filed a petition to this court for her younger sister. Despite of being of age Navina had so far been forced by the authorities to live in another home in Trichy. On the same day Navina returns home to her sisters and is welcomed with great joy in the church.
On 29.08.2018 the High Court Madurai pronounces the verdict regarding the restrictions to which Gideon Jacob is still subject. The ruling orders an extension of the restrictions until 26.10.2018. The court demands of the CBI, to complete their investigation by that date and submit a final report.
On 30.08.2018 the Supreme Court will hear the MoseMinistries case again. The affidavits were submitted in due time. But even at this trail no decision is reached, as the court has now received a report from the CBI that prevents a final verdict. The next trail is dated 19.09.2018.
On 29.10.2018 Gideon is released from the strict restrictions, but the passport remains confiscated. He no longer need to present himself in person for signature every day and is allowed to move freely within India. However, he must check out with the secret police and indicate his whereabouts. And he is not allowed to enter Trichy, since up till now he doesn’t have the permission to contact the young women of MoseMinistries. It also means he can still not lead the congregation of the church.
After further postponements and partial hearings, a final hearing on MoseMinistries will be scheduled in the Supreme Court for 14.11.2018 with a final verdict. 11 of the young women of MoseMinistries are personally present and heard by the judges. On 15.11.2018 at 15.00 the final verdict for the young women of MoseMinistries is announced. The following aspects are included:
- The young women are allowed to stay at MoseMinistries, i.e. on the MM premises and in their second residential area in ‚Amma’s House‘.
- The young women are now allowed to return to their birth parents if they wish and if their parents are willing.
- The young women are free to marry a person of their choice and the social authority should ensure that this is made possible.
- The young women are free to choose what course of study or training they wish to take up or to continue, without any geographical restrictions.
- The social welfare office should continue look after and protect the girls together with the local police. This does not include the finances, which must be taken over by the women themselves.
- The young women will not have to undergo any more ‚counselling‘ (advising, investigation).
- They young women are even in future forbidden from having any kind of contact of Gideon Jacob.
This verdict, given by the Supreme Court in response to an appeal by the young women against an unfair ruling in the High Court must now be implemented in the High Court.