Christians of central India’s Bhopal city have demanded justice for a Catholic nun who had been detained under the false charge of forcibly converting 4 tribal girls. Sister Bina, of the Congregation of the Carmelite Sisters of St. Teresa (CSST), was arrested at Satna railway station while travelling with 4 girls on board a train from Jharkhand state. The railway police forced them to get off the train locked them up at Satna Station for at least 12 hours before moving them to the police station where they were questioned. With no apparent evidence against them they were released.
Fr. Maria Stephen, head of the Public Relations Office of the Archdiocese of Bhopal, led a delegation of Christians to G.P. Singh, head of state railways. The priest told AsiaNews he submitted a memorandum expressing concern over the incident against Christians and the harassment of Sr. Bina. "We have stressed that Christians, like any other citizen of this country, have the right to travel for study, work and religious motives," Fr. Stephen said.
The Hindu fundamentalists belonging to the extremist Bajrang Dal, Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and Matrushakti groups had filed a complaint of forced conversion of the girls. Fr. Stephen noted that "the police halted the journey of Christian missionary on the basis of a simple claim, without making appropriate verifications.” “All this goes against the freedom of Indian citizens," he said. "Now the nun and three girls - says the archdiocese spokesman - are in the Pastoral Center, while a fourth tribal has been taken to the ChildLine Child Center, as the authorities insist on her being underage."
Archbishop Leo Cornelio of Bhopal strongly condemned the harassment by radical elements professing their loyalty and political alliance with the ruling right-wing Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). “All this is absolutely wrong and goes against the freedom of every Indian citizen," the Divine Word archbishop told AsiaNews. He denounced the “harassment, intimidation and humiliation” of Sr. Bina by the police while she was travelling by a public transport vehicle. “The behavior of the agents is to be condemned, " he said.
Fr. Stephen said that incident has caused "a profound trauma to the nun and the girls". Sister Tripti, vice provincial of the Carmelites, said that tribal girls from poor families were going to Bhopal for a training period. But the unpleasant incident would not disorient them and they would continue serving the poor. (Source: AsiaNews)