Mumbai (AsiaNews) - The Indian government has denied visas to Sister Bertilla Capra, of the Missionaries of the Immaculate,who has spent the past 44 years in India caring for people suffering from leprosy.
The interior ministry of Maharashtra has made clear that it is not about deportation or expulsion: her visa expired and was not renewed because the rules have changed. The nun, in charge of Vimala Dermatological Centre in Mumbai for over 35 years, must now apply for a "different category of visa", or she will not be able to stay in India and will have to return to Italy for good.
The new rules are not clear and - according to some Indian personalities - the same regional office for foreigners in Mumbai "is not helpful."
The Vimala Dermatological Centre is located in Versova and since 1976 provides care, surgery, rehabilitation for leprosy patients. To date it has cured tens of thousands of people and is still home to 80 patients and 75 children.
The sisters who work in the Centre are shocked by the letter received from Sister Bertilla, in she is being asked to leave India immediately.
Sister Tessie, who works with Sister Bertilla, told AsiaNews: "Until 2010 her visa was renewed every five years, then annually. This time, last November, her request for renewal was refused. She asked for at least a temporary visa for three months to find a solution, but was denied this. "
Today Sister Bertilla left for Delhi, hoping for a meeting with Rajnath Singh, Union Minister of Interior.
Sister Bertilla Capra, a native of Bergamo, is 77 years old and has been in India since 1970. For decades she worked among people suffering from leprosy not only offering medical care, but also spiritual, educating patients' families and wider society to combat the marginalization of people who have Hansen’s disease.