Two nuns, along with their two novices, were forced to deboard a train in Uttar Pradesh's Jhansi last Friday (March 19) by members of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), who accused them of forced conversion.
The nuns were allegedly heckled and harassed by ABVP workers. ABVP is the student wing of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), which is BJP's ideological patriarch.
Ajay Shankar Tiwari, an ABVP worker who was travelling on the same train as the nuns, alleged that he saw the two nuns speaking to the young girls and doubted that they were trying to convert them.
He then told his fellow ABVP workers and Hindu Jagran members who arrived at Jhansi station to force the nuns off the train.
Soon after, the railway police reached the location and took the nuns to the police station. However, when the police cross-examined the nuns and their postulates, they discovered that the ABVP workers' claim was wrong as the two postulates were carrying their baptism cards issued in 2003.
Meanwhile, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Wednesday, March 24, wrote a missive to Union Home Minister Amit Shah, urging him to take strict action against those involved in the shocking incident. Pinarayi Vijayan stated in the letter that the nuns were reportedly "harassed and intimidated by around 150 Bajrang Dal activists" and were also mistreated by the railway police.
"It is reported that the nuns and the postulates were forcefully removed from the train by the Jhansi police without the presence of women police officials and despite nuns showing their Aadhaar ID cards, the police did not accept those cards stating that they are fake. It was only after the matter was taken up with higher officials and after the intervention of Lucknow IG of Police, the nuns and the postulates were released from the police station at around 11 PM," the Kerala CM's letter to Shah read.
Harassment of nuns in UP is shocking. Indian citizens' fundamental rights have been violated. @BajrangdalOrg & @Uppolice have tarnished India's image and our ancient tradition of religious tolerance. Wrote to @HMOIndia requesting intervention, so that authorities take action. pic.twitter.com/H9IMAupesd— Pinarayi Vijayan (@vijayanpinarayi) March 24, 2021
Pinarayi Vijayan further said that the incident infringed upon Indian citizens' fundamental rights and tarnished the country's image and its ancient tradition of religious tolerance and practice. The Kerala CM also appealed to the Union Home Minister to take immediate action against those responsible.
Leader of Opposition in Kerala Assembly Ramesh Chennithala also wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, urging the latter to instruct authorities to bring offenders to book at the earliest so that such incidents don't happen in the future.
Meanwhile, promising action in the matter, Shah said strict action would be taken against the perpetrators. Speaking at an election rally on Wednesday, the home minister said, "Those involved in the Jhansi nuns' harassment incident will be brought before the law."