06/14/2017, 11.40
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Madhya Pradesh, a sister arrested (and released) for 'forced conversions'

by Nirmala Carvalho

Sister Bina Joseph and four girls remained in police custody for 12 hours. Released after interrogation. The denunciation of the young Hindu fundamentalists of Bajrang Dal and Matrushakti. Bishop of Bhopal: "The attitude of the police officers is to be condemned".

Bhopal (AsiaNews) - A Catholic nun and four girls in her company were arrested last night while on the Shipra Express train to Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh. From the state of Jharkhand, the women were stopped at Satna Station by the State Rail Police and taken off the convoy.

Hindu fundamentalists of Bajrang Dal [militant youth wing of Vishwa Hindu Parishad (Vhp), and Matrushakti (Vhp female branch) had submitted a complaint against Sister Bina Joseph of the Carmelite Congregation of St. Theresa, of forced conversions of the girls.

Speaking to AsiaNews Msgr. Leo Cornelio, Archbishop of Bhopal, "strongly condemns the harassment of radical elements professing their loyalty and political alliance with the ruling party [Bjp, Bharatiya Janata Party]. All this is absolutely wrong and goes against the freedom of every Indian citizen."

The archbishop complains that the nun "was traveling on a public transport vehicle, when she became was the victim of harassment, intimidation, and humiliation by the police. The behavior of the agents is to be condemned. " In fact, the religious and young people were in custody for at least 12 hours before being transferred to Satna's police station.

Here Balbeer Raman, the magistrate responsible for the affair, said that "the charges against the nun have not held. Her escorts are all Christian. We cannot open a case just because Bajrang Dal activists want it. " Following the interrogation, Sister Bina and three other girls were released, while the fourth (minor) was accompanied to a center for minors to await her parents.

For their part, fundamentalists continue to reiterate the sister's guilt. Meenakshi Nema of the Matrushakti group told The Indian Express: "We heard that 30 girls were being transported for conversions. But when they perceived the danger, they scattered into other compartments. We targeted those who got off the train to fill their bottles of water. After an initial admission of conversion, the women retracted. "

Archbishop Cornelio denounces "the attitude of the extremist groups affiliated to the ruling party who strike the Christian minority by any sordid means. The government is not doing enough to stem these groups, which benefit from the fact that the Bjp is in power and the anti-conversion law is abused in Madhya Pradesh. In the State, false accusations of conversions extorted with force are attributed to Christians."

Sajan K George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (Gcic), adds: "The Gcic disputes the police excess against Christians. The nun was doing nothing illegal or criminal. The climate of impunity surrounding saffron fanatics endangers the life of the tiny Christian population of the state, which was one of the first to endorse the Madhya Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act (1968), revised in 2013. " The Christian leader explains that the law obliges "anyone who wants to convert to obtain permission from a district attorney and punishes with prison for forced conversions". Then he recalls that yesterday's arrest is not the first episode of this kind. In May 11 Christians were denounced for "kidnapping and forced conversions" for accompanying some children to a summer camp.

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