A Malayali nun working with the Daughters of our Lady of Mercy Church in Srirampura, Mysuru, has alleged that she was forcibly admitted to a psychiatric hospital for pointing out irregularities in the convent, and was thrown out of the convent for the same reason.
The nun, Sister Elsina, had complained of corruption at the convent to the Karnataka Women’s Commission. She has alleged that the convent asked her to withdraw the complaint, but she refused, and was then allegedly tortured and forcibly admitted to a hospital.
Eventually, the nun’s relatives and police intervened and got her out of the convent following her discharge from the hospital. Sister Mary Elsina has further alleged that she was tortured at the convent and the hospital, which is run by nuns. The nun is currently living at a relative's house in Mysuru.
'Nuns At Convent Forced Me to Withdraw Complaint Given to Women's Commission'
Sister Elsina is a 45-year old nun who was born and raised in Mangaluru. A Malayali, her father is from Kozhikode and mother is from Alappuzha. She used to work as a teacher and later headmistress at a school run by another congregation in Kodagu.
“It has been just three months since I came to the convent of Daughters of Our Lady of Mercy. I have been a nun for the past 25 years. For quite some time, I’ve witnessed some discrepancies at the convent, and I wrote about this to the Karnataka Women’s Commission. The nuns at the convent forced me to withdraw the complaint to the Women’s Commission, and when I refused, I sensed some moves were being planned against me. This made me shoot a video in which I described the threat to my life which I have shared with my nephew,” Sister Elsina told TNM.
The nun alleged that she was subjected to severe torture at the convent at 7 pm on 31 May.
Nun Alleges She Was Beaten Up, Taken to Psychiatric Institution
“A nun, on 31 May, told me that I had a guest. There were two or three men, and two nuns, who were all strangers to me. They were talking to each other; only later I sensed that it was some conspiracy between some goons and people of my congregation to attack me. One of the men soon beat me up and I fell down; they snatched my mobile phone and tied my hands up. One of the men injected me with something and I collapsed. They dragged me like an animal to a vehicle, the nuns were helping them. One man stamped on my feet. No one cared to help me despite my screaming. I was still conscious and I could see one of the nuns taking something from one of the men,” she said.
She was taken in the vehicle to a nearby psychiatric institution, she said.
“They took me to a mental care hospital nearby, which is run by the nuns. I was treated in a very bad way, I was dragged by them to the upper floor. That night, I had very bad experiences from one of the men. Another man, who claimed to be the staff nurse of the hospital, also beat me up. They injected me with some medicine. The next day I asked a nurse there why I was admitted there and she told me that it was because I am mentally unwell. By that time I got very tired and I started frothing from the mouth,” the nun further said.
The torture faced by the nun came to light after her nephew approached a police station as he couldn’t reach her on phone. He showed the police the video clip the nun had shared with him. The nephew traced her with the help of the police.
“They didn’t allow my father to see me on the first day. He had to wait four days outside the hospital to see me. By then, the media was informed. I heard my father’s voice one day when I was taken out of a counseling room. I begged the nun who took me for counseling to allow me to see my father and went near him. My father had to get into a brawl, as the convent people told him I will be taken to the convent from the hospital. On the day I was discharged, they made me write that I was admitted of my own will and it was my father who got me discharged. But I didn’t sign that letter. The hospital also demanded that I write a letter saying that I am leaving the hospital and going with my father. I pretended that I was writing the letter and ran near my father,” Sister Elsina said.
Despite Receiving Nun's Complaint, Police Has Not Registered FIR
She and her father then reached the police station in a police vehicle. Sister Elsina went to the convent on 6 June along with the police to get her clothes. “But they didn’t give me my habit (nun’s clothing) nor my phone,” she added.
Sister Elsina has decided to stay in Mysuru and move legally as no First Information Report (FIR) has been registered in the complaint she filed with the police. She also alleged that the police are trying to compromise with the congregation in the case. “I have not left the convent, they are making me leave. I am from a poor family and can't go and live with my parents. They live in a small house and there are safety issues. Now, it’s like I am on the streets,” she said.
Last month, Sister Elsina wrote a letter to the Karnataka Women and Child Welfare Department too, about the alleged injustices taking place at the convent. She alleged that she was harassed by the convent demanding that she withdraw her letter to the Women's Commission, and that the harassment was led by senior nuns.
What Has the Church Said?
Meanwhile, the church issued a statement saying that Sister Elsina was transferred to the Provincial House in Mysuru because she was non-cooperative to her superiors at the hearing impaired school in Karnataka's Gonikoppa where she was appointed earlier as head mistress. The church maintains that she continued to be non-cooperative in Mysuru as well and even threatened to die by suicide.
The church said that in order to help her, she was taken for counselling and medical treatement at St Mary's Hospital, Mysuru on 31 May, with the consent of her own sister who is a nun in another religious congregation. "During this period, she, her father and others insisted that she be discharged from the hospital. In her own interest, they were advised to continue her medical care."
"Even before she was admitted to the Hospital in Mysore, she had clandestinely recorded a video with allegations against her own religious congregation and other Nuns with an ulterior motive to tarnish the image and blackmail," the church added, and said that whatever she has recorded in the video is totally false and malicious.
The church claimed that a few days later on 5 June 2022, after her admission in St Mary's Hospital, Mysuru where she was undergoing counselling by the doctor, her father and two nephews came and got her discharged against the advice of the doctor.
"All these incidents were informed to our higher authorities / major superior of the religious congregation in Italy that she has gone out of the religious community without the consent of the authorities here," the statement added.
The church said it is waiting for directions from its major superior after which it will decide the next course of action.
(Published in arrangement with The News Minute.)