Harassment of Nuns in Jhansi: 2 Held Over Fake Conversion Claims
Two nuns were allegedly harassed on the Utkal Express on 19 March over false claims of religious conversion.
The Jhansi police on Thursday, 1 April, arrested two men for allegedly harassing nuns on a train while accusing them of forceful religious conversion. The claims were later found to be baseless.
The incident took place on the Utkal Express on 19 March and came to the fore after a video of the harassment went viral on social media. Soon, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan wrote to Home Minister Amit Shah, urging him to take cognizance of the incident.
The arrested youths were identified as president of Rashtra Bhakt Sangathan Anchal Arjaria and secretary of Hindu Jagran Manch Purgesh Amaria. Arjaria and Amaria were also planning a protest, accusing police of lack of action against the nuns, according to IANS.
The two nuns, Livia Thomas and Hemlata, and two girls, Shweta and Bitrang, were travelling to Rourkela from Delhi.
The two nuns and the two postulants were travelling from New Delhi to Rourkela in Odisha on 19 March. The nuns and postulants belong to the Sacred Heart convent under Kerala-based Syro-Malabar Church.
The two nuns were accompanying the postulants to their first trip home in Odisha since they had recently joined the Sacred Hearts Congregation of the Delhi Province.
An ABVP leader, Ajay Shankar Tiwari, was travelling in the adjacent compartment on the train. Seeing the nuns and the two girls, he informed the Jhansi GRP about “suspicion” of religious conversion, following which ruckus ensued onboard the train.
In the video, the men, accompanied by police, can be seen interrogating the postulants and forcing them to show their Aadhaar cards. Another video circulated on social media shows the women being questioned by the Railway Protection Force and others.
The postulants repeatedly pleaded that they were born Christians and were training to become nuns. .
The four were then deboarded at Jhansi and interrogated for over three hours on the basis of Tiwari’s complaint. An all-male police force detained the four women and questioned them for five hours till 11 pm.
As per Syro-Malabar Church’s statement, the four women were let go only after top officials verified their information. They were then transferred to the Jhansi Bishop’s House, after which they resumed their journey on 21 March, with the Railway Police Protection.
After Vijayan’s letter, Shah on 24 March had promised action will be taken and said, “Those involved in the Jhansi nuns' harassment incident will be brought before the law,” according to PTI.
“You would agree with me that such incidents tarnish the image of the nation and its ancient tradition of religious tolerance and practice. Such incidents require utmost condemnation by the Union government,” Vijayan had stated in the letter.
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